Hairy Antarctic Hoff Crab Gets Formal Scientific Name

Posted on July 10, 2015

Male Yeti crab

A new crab species nicknamed The Hoff was first discovered in 2012 living over 2,000 meters beneath the surface of the Southern Ocean, near Antarctica. The crab was found living near a volcanic vent. The crab was named after hairy chested actor David Hasselhoff. The unusual crab, also known as Yeti crab, has now been given the official scientific name, Kiwa tyleri.

The name Kiwa tyleri honors Professor Paul Tyler, a British deep-sea and polar biologist from the University of Southampton. A male Yeti crab is pictured above and a male and female are pictured below. The crabs occur at very high densities around the hydrothermal vents with as many as 700 crabs per square meter.

The crab's body is densely covered in bristles (setae) and bacteria. These give the creature a fur-like appearance. Inhabiting the area of the volcanic chimney enables the creature to live in a warm environment of 25 degrees Celsius. It cannot venture too far from the chimneys because the temperature quickly drops to near zero degrees Celsius.

Dr. Sven Thatje from the University of Southampton and lead author of the study, says in a statement, "The Antarctic Yeti Crab is trapped in its warm-water hydrothermal vent site by the cold polar waters of the surrounding deep-sea. The species has adapted to this very limited sized habitat – of a few cubique metres in volume – by living in highly-packed densities and by relying on bacteria they grow on their fur-like setae for nutrition."

A research paper on the crab can be found here in the journal, PLoS One.

Male and female Yeti crab

Photos: University of Southampton/PLoS One

More from Science Space & Robots