Tuesday, January 10, 2012

David Hasselhoff Has Antarctic Hydrothermal Crabs

Recently, several species have been discovered, in droves, near one of the strangest habitats on earth:  hydrothermal vents on the deep ocean floor, near Antarctica.  These include new species of sea stars, sea anemones, a very pale octopus and the hairy chested Yeti Crabs.  Comically, these crabs were nicknamed by their discoverers as “The Hoff", nicknamed after David Hasselhoff. "The Hoff" crabs were found in great piles around the hydrothermal vents with long hairs on their abdomens, instead of their claws.  These hairs are used to gather bacteria, which actually digest the output of the hydrothermal vents, that the crabs turn around and eat.  

It is important to understand that these creatures live at a depth of 3 miles under water.  Most organisms are at some level reliant on light for their nutrition.  With no light at three miles under water, these animals instead rely on the chemicals of Antarctica’s deep-water hydrothermal vents for their nutrition.  These vents put out chemicals like hydrogen sulfide, which are toxic to most aquatic and terrestrial life.  But these chemicals are vital in sustaining the animals that exist at these depths.  

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