Similar in design to the popular fruit that is so often found in beverages alongside its sweeter companion, strawberry, the Kiwa Hirsuta is a crustacean of the mammalian persuasion. Its "pincers are covered with sinuous, hair-like strands," of a blond color. The actual shell, however, is white. The animal has no eyes, though a noticeable membrane is located where the eyes should be. Called, in the media, a "Yeti Crab," due to its similarity to the fictional, white, hairy menace that dominates wintry countrysides. Unlike the Yeti, however, the Kiwa Hirsuta is only six inches long. It looks, not so much like a crab, but instead like the squat lobsters from South America, which reside in freshwater.
Where Do They Live?
Currently, the only found Kiwa Hirsuta is about 900 miles south of Easter Island in the South Pacific Antarctic Ridge. The animal was discovered at a depth of 7,540 feet (2,300 meters) near hydrothermal vents, which release toxic chemicals that are fatal to most other animals.
What Does It Eat?
From observations made of the crustacean by scientists, the Kiwa Hirsuta seems to be carnivorous in nature. The Kiwa Hirsuta was seen battling over shrimp with two crabs.
A Furry Lobster?
Really, crustaceans with hair are not that surprising as there is the close relative of the Kiwa, the Mitten Crab. A native of the Yellow Sea, the Mitten Crab has traveled far and now resides in the San Francisco Bay and throughout Europe.
However, the Kiwa Hirsuta differs from the Mitten Crab in its use of the setae. The researcher, Dr Segonzac, "told the BBC News website that the 'hairy' pincers contained lots of filamentous bacteria. Some scientists think the bacteria detoxify poisonous minerals from the water, allowing Kiwa hirsuta to survive around the vents. Alternatively, the animal may actually feed on the bacteria that live in the hair-like strands." Another theory suggests that due to the lack of sunlight and increased cloudiness near the hydrothermal vents, the hairy claws and legs may be sense organs, similar to the whiskers on a cats face.
Why KIWA HIRSUTA?
Kiwa Hirsuta was named after the Polynesian Goddess Kiwa, goddess of crustaceans. Hirsuta is a latin word meaning "hairy."
So Who Found It?
The Kiwa Hirsuta was found in March 2005, but details of its discovery were not released until March 7th, 2006. It was found by French Researchers, led by Michel Segonzac for the French Research Institute for Exploitation of the Sea (IFREMER). More details of the Kiwa Hirsuta can be found in the journal of Paris' National Museum of Natural History.
http://www.wsg.washington.edu/outreach/mas/nis/mittencrab.html|Washington Sea Grant Program
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Because of the current lack of knowledge about the Kiwa Hirsuta, this write-up is constantly being revised. If you read something that isn't here, let me know, possibly mentioning where you found it, and it will be added. Thank you.