One of the strangest looking crabs you’ll likely see was found living off the coast of Antarctica. The yeti crab, which was found to be white, with what scientists are referring to as a hairy chest, lives near hydrothermal vents deep below the surface. The crab’s technical name is Kiwa tyleri, and it is the first of its kind to be found in this region. This is a significant find, given how elusive these creatures are deep under the surface.
Interestingly, the size discrepancy in these creatures is impressive. Some are as small as an inch or less while some are monstrous in comparison measuring in at half-a-foot, or 15-centemeters. Scientists found the creature by operating an unmanned vehicle, which went down more than 8,500 feet to find the creature deep beneath the surface.
Sven Thatje, who was the lead on the study, pointed out that, “We knew immediately that we’d found something tremendously novel and unique in hydrothermal vent research.” The team knew exactly what they were finding, as they come across it, so when they had to react to it – there was nothing but jubilation.
These waters are typically at or below freezing, which means that these creatures use the hydrothermal vents to ensure that they remain alive. However, that doesn’t mean that they’re interacting in an environment that’s very favorable for any kind of life. They are bright white, and essentially colorless because they don’t have any pigment. That can be tied back to the darkness and depth of the waters, which they reside in.
Andrew Thurber, who is an oceanographer, and was not a part of the study directly pointed out about the discovery that, “It just identifies how little we still know.” He went on pointing out that this shows “how some of these new species may be much more widespread than we thought.”
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This was something that hadn’t ever been found before, and the team found that through genetic identification, which confirmed that the creature they were looking at was very unknown. In fact, the exact species hadn’t ever been seen before, and that’s significant given how important diversity is at that depth of the sea.