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Crabs hither, shrimp thither

Biologists document surprising differences among deep-sea animals at hydrothermal vents

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11:17am, January 10, 2012

Like the boroughs of New York City or the arrondissements of Paris, deep-sea communities are turning out to have a strong local flavor.

In the waters off Antarctica at the southernmost seafloor vents where hot water percolates from below, piles of hairy crabs swarm in the thousands. In the middle of the Indian Ocean lives a motley collection of creatures never before seen together. And south of Cuba, at the world’s deepest vents, shrimp rule.

Thanks to a recent string of oceanographic expeditions, scientists are learning that there isn’t a stereotypical hydrothermal-vent ecosystem that exists everywhere. Rather, each locale hosts its own eclectic residents, in patterns tha

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