The Kiwa hirsuta (aka “furry crab” or “Yeti crab”) is an animal that you truly have to see to believe. A description of the Yeti crab makes it sound like a fictitious sea creature from a science fiction movie. The Kiwa hirsuta was first discovered in 2001 along the Pacific-Antarctic Ridge on the ocean floor at a depth of over 7,500 feet. As a member of the crab family, the Kiwa hirsuta gets its name from Kiwa - “goddess of shellfish” and Hirsuta - “hairy”. Below are some interesting characteristics that make this extraordinary animal quite unique.
Yeti crabs were apparently first observed in 2001 by the scientists aboard Sonne SO-157, a German expedition commissioned to study silica-rich lava in the hydrothermal vents along the Pacific-Antarctic Ridge near Easter Island. The credit for discovering it, however, goes to French researchers of French Research Institute for Exploitation of the Sea (IFREMER) who spotted the creature in March 2005, analyzed it, and prepared a detailed report released on March 7th, 2006. Read More
Perhaps the most notable facet of the Kiwa hirsuta's anatomy is its seemingly hairy limbs. These "hairs" are in fact a dense collection of setae; essentially they are stiff bristles that extend from Kiwa hirsuta's appendages. Currently, the actual use of these seta are unknown, however, under microscopic inspection many filamentous bacteria has been found living among this dense group of setae. Because of this it theorized that the setae are either used as method to collect bacteria which in turn would detoxify poisonous minerals from the water emitted by the hydrothermal vents where it lives; or that it may harvest these bacteria for later consumption - though it should be noted Hiwa hirsuta is typically thought to be a carnivore. Read More
Kiwa hirsuta was discovered 900 miles south of Easter Island on the floor of the Pacific Ocean at a depth of 7,540 feet (2,300 meters). Its natural habitat seems to be around hydrothermal vents along the ocean floor. Most shockingly though, these vents continually pump out fluids that are typically toxic to many animals. Furthermore, these hydrothermal vents can push the ambient temperature of the water to nearly 60 degrees Celsius (140 degrees Fahrenheit). Read More
Nutrition - Diet
Because the Kiwa hirsua somewhat newly discovered, little is known specific about the dietary habitats of this species. It has been theorized that the Yeti crabs main diet consists of algae and animal species. Observations have been recorded of Yeti crabs feeding on vent mussels along the ocean floor. Other scientists have observed two Yeti crabs fighting over a shrimp in a controlled environment. The Kiwa hirsuta’s digestive system also resembles that of a carnivore. Read More