Dec 13, 2011

Hairy germ-eating sea life

I'm sure you all remember the yeti crab, an amazing creature that was first discovered only in 2006. It's a deep-sea species that lives around methane-belching hydrothermal vents, and to top it off, it's got all kinds of bacteria growing in those hairlike filaments all over its legs.

Now the existence of a second species of yeti crab has been announced
. It's actually somewhat less hairy than the first, making it more authentically ugly - the silky-looking hair on the original species would really be attractive, if only it weren't on a crab.

And even better, scientists have discovered something new about that hair-bacteria as well. It's the crab's main source of food, and the crab even seems to actively "farm" it by waving its arms around (you can see videos here). "This 'dance' is extraordinary and comical," says one scientist, but it's not just good for a laugh: the behavior exposes the bacteria in the "hair" to the oxygen and sulphide that it needs to grow.

Another appreciative scientist commented, "The original yeti crab was charismatic. This one is even more so."

-Wombat (No Relation)

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