Let’s face it–crabs are pretty creepy looking creatures. The legs, the beady little eyes, the pincers; definitely not made for cuddling. Surprisingly, there was a recent discovery of an even weirder species of crab: the Yeti Crab.
Yes, you read that correctly. Just like its more popular “cousins,” the King Crab, Snow Crab, Blue Crab, Stone Crab and others that we’re used to seeing, the Yeti Crab is quite distinct.
Yeti Crabs Aren’t Like Any Other Crabs
Yeti Crabs are not only covered in thick, white “hair,” they’re also thought to be completely blind. The three different species that have been discovered so far typically live in the East Scotia Ridge (located in the Atlantic section of the Southern Ocean, between Antarctica and South America). These areas are all near thermal vents on the ocean floor, often called “black smokers” and can gush out water reaching more than 750 degrees Fahrenheit.
They Look Unusual and Live in Even More Unusual Places
The small area that these crabs call home is in a “thermal envelope” of just a few square meters, where the water is just the right temperature, said Sven Thatje, lead author of the report and associate professor of marine evolutionary ecology at the University of Southampton in England.
And because the inhabitable area for Yeti Crabs is so small, they are typically found in large clusters near the vents, trampling each other to try and make space. After all, once they venture outside the area of the hot black smokers, the water is very cold–usually around 30 degrees Fahrenheit.
Yeti Crabs Are Still Largely a Mystery
“They’re literally, in places, heaped up upon each other,” Alex Rogers, a professor of zoology at Oxford University who led the expedition to the East Scotia Ridge, told Live Science in 2012. Photographs taken by Rogers’ team show 600 crabs per square meter, explains one article.
The discovery of the Yeti Crabs and their mysterious habitats has left scientists with many questions that are still unanswered about these “hairy” underwater species. Learn more about what we currently know about the mysterious crabs below.