Weird Wildlife Wednesday: A Real-Life Yeti
Crab. A Real Life Yeti Crab… gosh darn title character limits
Meet the yeti crab
Species: K. hirsuta
Kiwa hirsuta was discovered in 2005 1,500km (no I won’t convert, learn the metric system already) off the coast of Easter Island. The genus Kiwa is named for a male divine guardian of the ocean in the traditions of the Māori tribes of New Zealand. Hirsuta just means “hairy,” in Latin.
It’s so adorable that I drew a picture of it.
Only this picture is a huge lie. While anthropomorphised eyes make everything better, the yeti crab doesn’t even have eyes… just soft membranes where the eyes might have been…
Not as creepy as it sounds, the yeti crab doesn’t need eyes because it lives at the bottom of the ocean on hydrothermal vents. If your inner pescatarian is still asking you, “but can I eat it?” you may be disheartened to find out that the hairy strands covering this crab’s pincers are chock full of bacteria… yum.
The function of the bacteria on the hair-fibers was not immediately known. Initially, scientists thought the the crab was likely primarily carnivorous while bacteria functioned to filter the surrounding toxic water. In 2011 study however, lipid and isotope analyses gave evidence to support that the epibiotic bacteria on the hairs are actually the crab’s main food source. The yeti crab moves around to remove boundary layers of buildup that would limit bacteria production to essentially “farm” the bacteria, before using a freaky mouth appendage called a 3rd maxilliped to harvest the bacteria.
How cool is that? If I could grow a sandwich on my arm just by waving it around a bit, I would never leave my apartment. Or my couch for that matter. I wonder how hard it is to get Netflix 2,300m below the surface of the ocean.
Additional source: BBC News