Kiwa Tyleri is the newest addition to the yeti crab family, and unlike its name would suggest, it is in fact a small, interesting crustacean thriving in the cold Antarctica waters.
This is the third discovery included in the yeti crab family, and an exciting one at that. The first species of yeti crabs was only recently found in 2005 in the waters of the South Pacific.
The second yeti crab species was brought to light in 2011, just off the Costa Rican coast. So, here it is, the newest addition to the yeti crab family, Kiwa Tyleri.
The small armed crustacean was named Kiwa Tyleri in honor to emeritus professor and pioneer of deep-sea research, Paul Tyler.
Nonetheless, before its ‘baptism’, the yeti crab dwelling in the Antarctic waters was initially nicknamed Hoff crab. In case you are wondering, Kiwa Tyleri’s hairy chest was thought to resemble David Hasselhoff. Thus, the Hoff crab. The nickname did not stick around for long though.
Kiwa Tyleri is only 0.5 centimeters to 15 centimeters in length. Sturdy and small, they have shorter and stronger legs than their brethren in the warmer waters of the South Pacific.
Scientists came about this discovery when in 2010 a remotely operated vehicle was steered in East Scotia Ridge at 2,600 meters depth.
Waters in this region are usually only slightly above freezing. The perk is that the hydrothermal vents found here considerably raise the temperature of the water, as when it is spewed out it registers nearly 400 degrees Celsius.
Sven Thatje of University of Southampton and leader of the study on the Kiwa Tyleri commented:
“We knew immediately that we’d found something tremendously novel and unique in hydrothermal vent research”.
Indeed, the uniqueness of the Kiwa Tyleri yeti crabs is unquestionable. They are the first of their family to be thriving in such harsh environments like the East Scotia Ridge, where few species really venture and choose their habitat.
But the brave crustaceans learned rapidly to adapt to their environment. Their very restricted environment that is. Away from the hydrothermal vents the water reaches such low temperatures that the Kiwa Tyleri freeze and die.
Too close to the hydrothermal vents, the yeti crabs risk to boil instantly. So in between, they choose a space that is just about right temperaturewise and keep each other warm by clustering like
“beans in jar, filling every available space”,
according to Thatje. He mentioned that these yeti crabs exhibit a behavior not seen in their peers. They cluster in colonies of about 700 individuals over one square meter and often live one on top of the other.
When they move, they have an advantage compared to the two other yeti crab species: its robust and short front limbs, as well as their compact body structure.
A small armored machine fit for survival in the harsh conditions. Thus, they meet little trouble climbing the vertical surfaces of the hydrothermal vents where they gather food and raise the temperature of their bodies.
Females of the Kiwa Tyleri should gain an endurance medal. When the individuals mate, the larvae seem to need the usual lower temperatures to develop.
So the female Kiwa Tyleri, which most likely breed one time only before they meet their death, venture out of the comfy zone provided by the hydrothermal vents.
If they do not die soon, their bodies suffer considerable damage which eventually leads to death.
The lack of sun in the cold waters of East Scotia Ridge led the Kiwa Tyleri yeti crab to harness energy by farming their food. The chest and legs which are covered in setae are perfect for bacteria breeding and thriving, which the yeti crabs enjoys on a daily menu.
The amazing discovery of the Kiwa Tyleri is detailed in the PLOS ONE journal.
Image Source: neatorama.com