Divers found a new species of crustacean living deep in hydrothermal vents of the South Pacific. The creature resembles a lobster covered with “silky, blond” fur say researchers who made the discovery.
The new crustacean, called Kiwa hirsuta, is described in the journal of the National Museum of Natural History in Paris. The animal is so distinct from other crustaceans that it has been assigned to a new family (Kiwaida) and genus (Kiwa). According to the scientists, the creature’s name is derived from Kiwa, the goddess of crustaceans in Polynesian mythology.
The divers found the animal in ocean waters 7,540 feet (2,300 meters) deep at a site 900 miles south of Easter Island in the South Pacific. The 6-inch long (15 cm) animal lives in hydrothermal vents and is blind, with only “the vestige of a membrane” in place of eyes says Michel Segonzac of the French Institute for Sea Exploration, one of the researchers who made the find.
Kiwi hirsuta, a newly discovered crustacean found in hydrothermal vents of the Pacific Antarctic Ridge, south of Easter Island. Photo courtesy of the French Research Institute for Exploitation of the Sea (IFREMER).
In recent years a number of species have been discovered living in deep water hydrothermal vents on the sea floor. Some of these life forms are able to withstand super-heated water temperatures. Nevertheless, it is quite rate to find a new species that merits a new family.
The diving expedition was organized by Robert Vrijenhoek of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in California.