Newly discovered yeti crab swarms around Antarctic hydrothermal vents

Eyeless, the crab seeks out not-too-hot, not-too-cold water in the dark

eyeless, compact yeti crab Kiwa tyleri

VENT DWELLERS  Researchers discovered the eyeless, compact yeti crab Kiwa tyleri living around hydrothermal vents in the Southern Ocean. The female crab is on the left; the male is on the right.

S. Thatje et al/PLOS ONE 2015

A little yeti crab makes the most of a pretty rough neighborhood.

Newly discovered Kiwa tyleri lives in the dark about 2,500 meters below the surface of the Southern Ocean around Antarctica, researchers in England report June 24 in PLOS ONE.

K. tyleri’s stout body and spiny legs help it cling to the walls of hydrothermal vents, where it seeks a narrow comfort zone between superheated vent water and subzero seawater. K. tyleri seems to thrive there: Scientists found more than 700 yeti crabs crammed into one square meter.

Like their mythical, hirsute namesake, yeti crab species have thick, hairlike bristles. K. tyleri’s bristles, on its limbs and belly, might help the crab collect the bacteria that it eats.  

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