Kiwa hirsuta Macpherson, Jones and Segonzac, 2005
"During a series of submersible dives on the Easter Island Microplate, Michel Segonzac, a Census of Marine Life scientist participating in the March-April 2005 PAR 5 Research Expedition (Chief Scientist: R. Vrijoeneck, MBARI, USA)"., encountered a unique "hairy" crustacean on a hydrothermal site. Dubbed the "Yeti Crab", the crustacean so interested the scientists that they collected a specimen for examination.
This "Yeti Crab" has not been previously encountered in 30 + years of hydrothermal vent exploration. It has proved to be new to science and has been classified as belonging to a new family of crustaceans. Being described as a decapod crustacean, the Yeti Crab would be related to crabs, lobster, and shrimp. However, close examination has revealed that the unique morphology, including a lack of eyes and a profusion of hairlike setae , as well as the genetic code of this organism, Kiwa hirsuta, does not fall within the boundaries of previously described taxonomic groups. This has led to the description and proposal of the new family Kiwaidae, named after Kiwa the Polynesian goddess of shellfish."
(Marine Life Discoveries, Census of Marine Life)
"The new species occurs at densities of one to two individuals per 10 m2, more or less regularly spaced on the zone of pillow basalt surrounding active hydrothermal vents... Specimens were also observed on extinct chimneys and at the base of black smokers, among vent mussels, where shimmering milky water emanates."
(Macpherson, Jones & Segonzac, 2005)
"The “Yeti” crab was observed on three hydrothermal sites distributed on nearly 1.5 km along the Pacific-Antarctic Ridge segment: Sebastian’s Steamer (37°47.48’S, 110°54.85’W, 2204 m), Pâle Étoile (37º47.36’S, 110º54.85’W, 2215 m) and Annie’s Anthill (37°46.49’S, 110°54.72’W, 2228 m), 1.2 km northern. This site is the northern boundary known of the “Yeti” crab." (Macpherson, Jones & Segonzac, 2005)
"Like other vent decapod crustaceans Kiwa hirsuta n. gen., n. sp. is probably omnivorous. Specimens were observed in situ consuming tissues of mussels damaged by submersible sampling activities." (Macpherson, Jones & Segonzac, 2005)
"The presence on the legs of dense bacteriophoran setae colonized by mats of probably sulfo-oxidizing bacteria, makes it possible to regard this species as an obligate associated to the hydrothermal vents. These bacteria could serve as a nutritional resource." (Macpherson, Jones & Segonzac, 2005)
Evolution and Systematics
Systematics and Taxonomy
"The new genus and species is sufficiently different from all other galatheoid families to justify the establishment of a new family. The 18S rRNA phylogeny confirms the clear difference between anomuran families, placing the new taxa closer to the families Chirostylidae, Galatheidae and Porcellanidae than to Aeglidae." (Macpherson, Jones & Segonzac, 2005)