In their first exploration of deep-sea vents in the Antarctic, scientists have discovered a world populated by new species, including a new type of Yeti crab they’ve dubbed a “Hasselhoff crab” for its hairy chest.
Discovered in 2010, the crab lives some 2,500 meters below on the Southern Ocean floor, along with newly found species of anemones, barnacles, an octopus, and predatory sea stars, The Post’s freelance writer Mark Schrope reports. The species were found because they were drawn to to the lights of the robotic research submersible.
The find was “almost like a sight from another planet,” expedition leader Alex Rogers, a professor of zoology at Oxford University, told the Scientific American.
Yeti crabs are recognizable for their hairs, or setae, that sprout out along their claws and limbs. But the Hasselhoff crab (in true Mitch Buchannon fashion) takes it a step further — it even has hair on its undersides, hence the nickname, the BBC reports. The Scientific American likens the appearance of the crab’s chest to “gardens” of bacteria , which it says likely provide the crab with sustenance.
While strange new life like “The Hoff” can be found at deep-sea vents around the world, scientists have only recently begun to explore hydrothermal vents in Antarctica, as the waters are especially treacherous, Schrope writes.
Jon Copley, a professor of earth and ocean science at the University of Southampton, who participated in the research, told Live Science scientists were also hindered by the harsh temperatures of the Southern Ocean.
The team’s first discovery was the unusal yeti crab. “Shouts from the scientists watching the monitors quickly drew everyone on board to gaze upon a landscape blanketed by what they quickly realized was a new species of kiwa crab,” Schrope wrote.
“They almost looked like a pile of skulls sitting on the seabed,” said the team’s leader, Alex Rogers, a deep-sea biologist at Oxford University. “It was an amazing, amazing sight.”
Below, watch video, taken by a remotely operated vehicle, from the deep sea vents:
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