Kiwa Hirsuta

This blog is about Kiwa Hirsuta

More and more new creatures have been found in the places difficult to reach with the exploration of the deep sea. Kiwa Hirsuta is such a new species which subverted the concept inherent about the creatures. It was found near the hydrothermal vents in the deep sea (about 2,200 metre’s deep) at south of Easter Island in 2005.

The hydrothermal vents in the deep sea provide an extreme habitat for the creatures. To adapt the environment of deep sea hydrothermal vents, the Kiwa Hirsuta is snow-white except for the yellow pincers. The signature of it is a couple of hairy pincers which makes it looks like an abominable snowman (yeti). Meanwhile, marine biologists can’t figure out whether it is a lobster or a crab when Kiwa Hirsuta first discovered. So it is nicknamed “yeti lobster” or “yeti crab”. It is so distinctive that a new genus and new species named Kiwa in 2005 after the discovery of Kiwa Hirsuta.

Kiwa Hirsuta is a charming creature which should exist in the fairy tale. And to the especial habitat, it formed proper structure which provides significant value for research. However, the extreme habitat is a huge challenge in the experimental process and care of samples.

A lot of researches of the Kiwa are unprecedented. The hydrothermal without plenty background information need more direct evidence from the deep sea. All the articles in the blog based on the reports, books and website. The further research may knock the bottom out of the existing hypothesis.


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  • Macpherson E., Jones J. & M. Segonzac, 2005. A new Squat lobster family of Galatheoidea (Crustacea, Decapoda, Anomura) from the hydrothermal vents of the Pacific-Antarctic Ridge. Zoosystema 27(4): 709-723.
  • Desbruyères, D., & Segonzac, M. (Eds.). (1997). Handbook of deep-sea hydrothermal vent fauna. Editions Quae.
  • ‘Furry lobster’ found in Pacific”. BBC News. March 8, 2006.
  • Elsdon Best (1924). “IV. Cosmogony and Anthropogeny”. The Maori – Volume 1. pp. 89–105.
  • Thurber, A. R., Jones, W. J., & Schnabel, K. (2011). Dancing for food in the deep sea: bacterial farming by a new species of yeti crab. PLoS One, 6(11), e26243.
  • Alex D. Rogers, Paul Tyler, Douglas P. Connelly, Jon T. Copley, Rachael James et al. (2012). “The discovery of new deep-sea hydrothermal vent communities in the Southern Ocean and implications for biogeography”. PLoS Biology 10 (1): e1001234.
  • Andrew R. Thurber, William J. Jones & Kareen Schnabel (2011). “Dancing for food in the deep sea: bacterial farming by a new species of yeti crab”. PLoS ONE 6 (11): e26243.
  • ‘”Yeti Crab” Discovered in Deep Pacific’. National Geographic. March 9, 2006


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The food of Kiwa

In 2005, Kiwa Hirsute observed to attack the shell-broken vent mussels and intrude into vent mussel beds. Scientists looked upon this action as symbolize of prey. They supposed that Kiwa Hirsute is ‘probably omnivorous’ based on video. The mussel, algae and some kinds of small animal near hydrothermal vents may be on the diet of Kiwa Hirsute

According to the interview of Dr. Michel Segonzac, the man discovered Kiwa Hirsute, Kiwa Hirsute was described as a “general carnivore” because he claimed that two Kiwa Hirsute was seen to fight over shrimp. It supports the argument of ’probably omnivorous’ raised by Macpherson.

Another hydrothermal was raised after the Kiwa Hirsute was observed to wave the chelipeds slowly near hydrothermal vent. The methodical movement made the scientists thought the meaning of it. The initial explain of this movement is that Kiwa Hirsute tried to keep another creature away. However, the location of that movement usually is at the seep point of methane. The scientists associated the bacteria which could be bloomed with the heat and mineral substance of hydrothermal vent with the hairy chelipeds.

After the chemical analysis of the bacteria on the chelipeds and rostrum of Kiwa Hirsute, it could basically sure that Kiwa Hirsute cultures the bacteria on the chelipeds for eat. As the chief energy source in hydrothermal vents, the bacteria had been found in almost all creatures near hydrothermal vent. However, it is the first time to discover a creature to cultures the bacteria.

As the video of Kiwa Hirsute shows that Kiwa Hirsute could drop the bacteria down by the comb-like mouthparts. Moreover, the chelipeds is a good culturing farm for the bacteria. The motion of waving the chelipeds at the methane leakage point may be a method to provides more nutrition to the bacteria. This discovery has contributed much to the study of Kiwa Hirsute.

The distinctive food supply of Kiwa Hirsute may be one of the contributing factors of the chelipeds of Kiwa Hirsute. As far as I know, there is no evidence to prove that the chelipeds of Kiwa Hirsute could be used to detect the tiny current in the deep sea. The scientist mentioned that this may help the Kiwa Hirsute to find the better nutrition recourse for the bacteria.

The mussels and shrimps could provide more energy than the bacteria, but they are not easy to catch. The bacteria may are the grain reserve when there is no adequate food, just like the monkey eats the flea. Maybe this is the reason of why the Kiwa Hirsute is regarded as an omnivotous creature.

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After being seen near the hydrothermal vents in Antarctica in 2001, the first batch of examples of Kiwa Hirsute were collected along the short stretch of ocean floor, 1500 kilometers south of the Easter Island(37°50’S). Violent geothermal activities of this area caused three hydrothermal vents in the deep sea which named Sebastian’s Steamer, Pâle Étoile, and Annie’s Anthill at about two thousand meters deep. Based on the location of the examples, Annie’s Anthill gave the northernmost boundary of family Kiwa in 2006.  A large population of Kiwa Hirsute was found near the coast of Costa Rica in 2007. Although the range of the habitat given by Annie’s Anthill has been influenced by this discovery, the habitat of Kiwa Hirsute could be described as the hydrothermal vents in Antarctica.

As the influence of the subterranean magma and deep sea water, the black smoke of hydrothermal vents provides intense heat (more than 400°C), strong acid and abundant mineral substance. The darkness and high press conditions of the deep sea also created an extreme environment.

Kiwa Hirsute perches at the base of the chimney between other hydrothermal vent creatures. In general, the environment in the deep sea hydrothermal vent is stable as long as the hydrothermal vents are not active. The sustained black smoke of hydrothermal vent provides abundant energy source to the creatures around. The Kiwa Hirsute is a social animal that gathers on the zone of pillow basalt surrounding active hydrothermal vents. Bayhymodiolus(Vent mussels), bythograeid crabs and ophidiid fish share the habitat with Kiwa Hirsute. The habitat of them is usually crowded with a clear boundary.

A research suggests that the males of Kiwa seem to prefer warmer water while the egg-carrying females and juveniles keen on the colder water. The activity scope of the Kiwa Hirsute depends on the temperature of the sea water. The intense hot water from vents cools down rapidly by mixture with the cold water surrounding. The requirement of specified temperature means that the habitat of Kiwa Hirsute is narrow. However, it could reduce the competition between the Kiwa Hirsute and the male-female ratio will not vary considerably.

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Family Kiwa

Kiwa is a family in Superfamily Chirostyloidea which was set after the discovery of Kiwa Hirsuta in 2005. Actually, Kiwa Hirsuta was first seen in 2001 by the scientists of German cruise Sonne SO-157. Because they mischaracterized the Kiwa Hirsuta as another species, no example was collected and no description was noted at that time.

In2006, one year after found of Kiwa Hirsuta, another species called Kiwa puravida which means ‘pure creature’ in Costa Rica language were discovered in Costa Rica. The third species of Kiwa, named “The Hoff”, was found on the East Scotia Ridge.

Some researchers studied the “The Hoff” in recent years. The analysis of mitochondrial and nuclear rDNA of the Kiwa Hirsuta and “The Hoff” shows that the divergence time for the two species is 12 million years ago.

Kiwa puravida was discovered at the deep sea of 1000 meters deep while the Kiwa Hirsuta was found at the depth of 2200 meters which is quite similar to “The Hoff”.

In my opinion, the hydrothermal vents provide almost all the energy that Kiwa need. That is the reason why the Kiwa could not go to another hydrothermal vent which a long way off its habitat. The differences of temperature and chemical substances magma caused the morphological characteristics of different species of Kiwa.

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Kiwa Hirsuta has a lot of analogous characteristic with Galatheoidea  which called ‘squat lobsters’. Smooth dorsal Carapace and similar length-width ratio (the length of Kiwa Hirsuta is 1.3 times longer than broad ) make the Kiwa Hirsuta looks like a crab or a lobster. That is why the Kiwa Hirsuta belongs to Family Kiwaidae, in the superfamily Galatheoidea of infraorder Anomura. The distinctive characters which distinguish Kiwa from Galatheoidea include the shape of carapace ornamentation, large sternite between third maxillipeds and ‘hairy’ chelipeds and walking legs.

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Kiwa Hirsuta is white and with strongly reduced eyes. The eyes are a bit more than vestigial membranes without pigment and visual structure. This is an obvious character caused by the lightness in the deep sea.

The size of Kiwa Hirsuta is quite small, compare with the familiar sorts of crab or lobster. The total length of it is 88.4mm and the sarapace length 51.5mm.

The rostrum of the Kiwa Hirsuta is broadly triangular and slightly concave. There are some small teeth near the rostrum and granules could be seen on the lateral borders. The ventral side is slightly carinated.

Kiwa Hirsuta has one pair of chelipeds, four pairs of walking legs and paired pleopods. The fifth pereopod is not visible because it is below the sternal plastron. The chelipeds and the first two walking legs numerous spine with yellow corneal tip and tuft of long and dense plumose setae, absent in cheliped fingers. Chelipeds are almost twice as long as the sarapace including rostrum and They are considered the aquaticn of bacteria.

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