Wild Fact #937 – This Crab has Style – Yeti Crab (Kiwa hirsuta)

Newly Discovered Yeti Crab (Image: Ifremer/A. Fifis)

Newly Discovered Yeti Crab (Image: Ifremer/A. Fifis)

Welcome to day three of Wild Facts – Weird and Unusual Animals. You know, I think it was Glenn over at Man Over Board that suggested I could easily do 1000 Wild Facts just on deep sea animals.  I think he may have been right as we are heading back to the depths of the deep ocean for another newly discovered species.

I had my first experience with lobster on a trip to Halifax last year and I must say that I really enjoyed it.  Now, I am not sure if I would have eaten that scrumptious lobster had it been covered in fur like the newly discovered “Yeti Crab”.  That’s right, the silky fur on the picture above has not been photoshopped in for a crab fashion show.  That is really what these deep sea crustaceans look like. Obviously, the question that needs to be asked is “What the heck is the silky fur used for?” I can tell you right now that I am not able to answer that question with 100% certainty but I will let you in on the two possible answers.

The first possible reason has to do with feeding.  On our journey to Wild Fact #937 we have noticed that a lot of adaptations have evolved for feeding or mating so this would make sense.  Now, wait a minute, how can fur be used for feeding? Well, you see the “Yeti Crab” lives on the ocean floor by the Easter Islands (you know the famous Easter Islands).  This unique animal lives near some deep sea hydrothermal vents.  These vents can pose a serious threat to many animals as it produces a lot of toxins.  The other thing that it produces is bacteria.  When scientists discovered this new crustacean they noticed that the fur was covered in a variety of bacteria.  Some researchers believe that these animals eat the bacteria that they capture in their fur.  Well that seems plausible, doesn’t it? Although, there are reports of two of these “Yeti Crabs” fighting over a piece of shrimp so either they have various food groups or this special fur serves another purpose.

Remember, when I said that those ocean floor vents are deadly for some animals.  So why not for this crustacean? Well, some researchers believe that the bacteria in their fur actually filter out the harmful toxins that are produced from these vents.  Personally, I like this theory but to this point nobody knows for sure.  So what are you thoughts? Maybe it is just a fashion statement?  You know the drill, 5 Bonus Wild Fact Points for anyone with guesses for the use of this fur!

I hope you enjoyed today’s fact.


National Geographic

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