A new species of the Yeti crab family made it to the list. It is the Kiwa Tyleri that dwells in the deep cold waters of the Antarctic.
The research team that brought this little fellow to light is excited with their finding. Before this last decade, the Yeti crab family was unknown. Since 2005, it already counts three member species.
The first yeti crab species was found in the warmer climates of the South Pacific in 2005. The second yeti crab also dwells in warm climates, a short distance from the coast of Costa Rica. This species was discovered in 2011.
Now, four years and one expedition into the East Scotia Ridge of the cold Antarctic later, the newest member of the yeti crab family is here. The remotely operated vehicle took a plunge at 2,600 meters under the ocean level to bring Kiwa Tyleri to light.
The exotic sounding name of the sturdy looking crab is an homage to renowned scientist Paul Tyler who pioneered deep-sea exploration. As a fun fact, Kiwa Tyler was initially supposed to be named the Hoff crab.
Its hairy body, particularly the chest of the specimens reminded the team of Baywatch legend David Hasselhoff. It wasn’t meant to be, although the nickname seems to stick around nonetheless.
As mentioned above, the Kiwa Tyleri dwells in the cold waters of the Antarctic, in the East Scotia Ridge. Nonetheless, its smart adapting system pushed its habitat next to the hydrothermal vents of the region.
While the temperature of the water spewed by the hydrothermal vents is close to 400 degrees Celsius, the temperature of the water outside of the patch where the Kira Tyleri lives is just a bit above freezing.
So, the Kiwa Tyleri chose one restricted area where the water temperature is just about right. 400 degree water reads boiling death for the yeti crab. Near 0 degrees also spells body damage that leads to death.
To survive this harsh environment, the individuals of the Kiwa Tyleri species cluster in groups that were observed to count as much 700 crabs per square meter. Sven Thatje from the University of Southampton and the lead author of the research commented that upon observing the yeti crabs, they looked like:
“beans in a jar, filling every available space”.
Kira Tyleri only measures between 0.5 centimeters and 15 centimeters in length. Its appearance is sturdier than that of its peers thriving in warmer waters. Also, its front limbs are much stronger, albeit shorter than those of their warm-water loving brethren.
The strong front limbs of the Kiwa Tyleri are a great adaptive mechanism for the yeti crabs to climb the walls of the hydrothermal vents or surpass obstacles in their path.
It is also these short and stout limbs that exhibit setae, as does the chest of Kiwa Tyleri. These hairy surfaces on the small body of the yeti crabs have a crucial role in the gathering food.
Setae are a magnet for bacteria necessary for the Kiwa Tyleri to survive. So, in way, the setae are the food reserves of the Kiwa Tyleri, or their food farms.
The uniqueness of the third addition to the Yeti crab family is fully detailed in the PLOS ONE journal.
Image Source: thetimesgazette.com
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