Long, silky blonde hair…


…on a crustacean? Kiwa hirsuta is a new decapod crustacean discovered living near hydrothermal vents in the Pacific. It’s eyeless as well as hairy.

I’m sure there’s a dumb blonde joke in this somewhere, or since it was discovered by a French team, something about unshaven armpits. I wonder how low the comments are going to sink on this one; go ahead and vent and get it out of your system.


  1. JohnnieCanuck says

    Living in a semi-metric country, I just love to see hard conversions in action. The 5.9 inches is derived from 15 cm. That’s a lot bigger than I guessed, on first seeing the image.

  2. says

    but seriously folks …

    i wonder if the filaments slow fluid flow near the crab. maybe its prey normally zoom by on vent plumes and the hair slows fluid speed near the crab so it can grab the goodies.

  3. says

    of course, the hair might be a means of locating prey as well. i bet it can tell if any one of those hairs are disturbed.

  4. NatureSelectedMe says

    I wonder how close to fur/hair it is physically? Is it using similar genes to create it?

  5. says

    nah, i changed my mind. most likely the hair does slow fluid flow about the crab but the point is to allow it to more easily remain in place in vent effluent.

    and if that’s not it, then there’s something about slowing the fluid flow to get something out of it, perhaps absorbing stuff dissolved in the fluid directly, kind of like what capillaries do, except there are the outside, and are complements of capillaries.

  6. says

    Crabs in hair are nothing new.

    [Cheech and Chong]I remember the great kerosene flood. I lost six million brothers and sisters[/C&C]

  7. Geoffrey Brent says

    The 5.9 inches is derived from 15 cm.

    And I wouldn’t be surprised if that ’15 cm’ was itself derived a round six inches. But I’m cynical about most everything beyond the first one-and-a-half significant figures.

  8. G. Tingey says

    Shouldn’t the Latin name be Kiwa mingis?

    Particularly given the presentation in the photo – look at the shape represented by the hairy arm/legs and the significant main body-blob below ….

    I wonder about eltro-sensing in the hairs – like a platypus, or some of the electric fishes – which would help detect food.

  9. Valued Customer says

    I seem to see what appears to be an eyestalk at the base of the short antenna in the photo. The blurb about the creature here: http://www.ifremer.fr/francais/actual/ifremer_infos/numeros/n015.htm
    does say it has no eyes, yet perhaps sightless eyes have merely been incorrectly reported as being nonexistent.

    I have seen ‘hair’ on crabs before, at the leading edges of the limbs, and on the underside, of the common dungeness crab. Certainly less luxurious of growth than on this species, but nonetheless hairy crabs were pretty common where I grew up.

    The siting of the most obvious growths of hair on the extremeties would suggest a protective role, on both species, and the length of the pincers would suggest that this species feeds at some distance from it’s meal, perhaps to limit excessive exothermic loading.

    The hair would likely then have insulative value by trapping cooler water while the pincers were thrust into food bearing regions of hotter water, like the hairs of the water spider trap a bubble of air.

  10. says

    Is it a boy or a girl?

    I’d think the former as the hair may be a display to attract female crabs but, just for the pun of it, I’ll say it’s a girl cuz it sure is one hairy bitch.

    (Would a post in broad support of Feminism save my societal soul for that particular pun?)

  11. John Wendt says

    Of course what one would really like to know is (1) what does the larva look like, and (2) what do the homologous genes look like.

  12. lobsterlily says

    Crustacean hairs are typically for chemoreception and mechanoreception. Something awful smelly down there!

    I know a couple of scientists who work on hairs in crustaceans who are probably really twitching to get a hold of one of these babies…

  13. EVinson says

    “Something awful smelly down there!”
    Hydrogen sulfide, for starters. I’ve wondered whether the various vent fauna – tubeworms, etc. – smell rotton-eggy or worse from living in an H2S-based economy. Has anyone here actually seen/sniffed any of those critters?

  14. BlueIndependent says

    Looks like a mad scientist’s cross breeding of a baboon and a dung beetle.

  15. aiabx says

    I met a hot blonde in a bar, and ended up with crabs.

    Oh, the shame I have brought upon myself.

  16. Torbjorn Larsson says

    “I’ll say it’s a girl cuz it sure is one hairy bitch.”

    So you are saying boys like to feel the fur.

  17. Ottnott says

    Holy smokes! Michael Jackson’s next uniform was supposed to be the most closely guarded secret on the planet.

    Man, you really have sources!

  18. says

    I’m disappointed. All the famous women with long, blonde hair, and all they could come up with was K. hirsuta. I would have named it something like K. fawcettii at least.

  19. Niles says

    You just know this one is destined for the plush toy aisle. It would be very well suited to the ‘clasping monkey’ style that hang around the neck of the wearer. The body is the perfect shape for a handbag too.

    With all the cuties featured here, where /is/ the collection of deep sea species accessories? Bet it would be big in Japan. Popularize science through fashion!

  20. Niles says

    On a more serious note…

    Is the crab truly blonde? Or are those hairs translucent and colourless, like polar bear hairs, which appear yellowish at some angles?

  21. says

    From the article: “The animal is white and 5.9 inches long, about the size of a salad plate”.

    You can sure see the assumptions our species tends to make when we see a potentially tasty arthropod.

    Wouldn’t the easiest snipe at the French be something about French scientists discovering a new species, along with a rich, heavy cream sauce to go along with it? A new genus of sauce had to be created with this discovery: Kiwa béarnaisea.

    Where is the Onion when you need them!

  22. says

    Shades of Brokeback Mountain!

    From my history as a cowboy, I can tell you there is a cowboy equivalent of the gearhead, the guy who has to have ALL the cool cowpoke gear. The high-top embroidered boots, the silk wildrag, the big hat, the tri-colored braided horsehair hatband, the hand-made silver spurs with the copper inlay, etc.

    The first thing I thought of when I saw this crab was angora chaps.


  23. CCP says

    “I seem to see what appears to be an eyestalk at the base of the short antenna in the photo.”
    “Kiwa hirsuta has ‘Eyes strongly reduced, membranous remains, without pigment.’… So it does have eyes, but is probably blind.”
    It’s a good idea for even a blind crab to retain eyestalks…there’s a neuroendocrine gland in there with important roles in salt and water balance.

  24. isabelita says

    I love the idea of calling it a Disco Crab! It looks like it’s got its own shag carpeting. I think it’s a fantastic-looking creature. My late friend, Kevin Li, who “majored in clams and oysters” at the Univ. of Washington here in Seattle would have loved this critter.

  25. says

    I saw the photo while surfing and drinking coffee this morning. From the next room (okay, small apartment and all), my husband heard me say, “Awwwwwww!” He looked over my shoulder at the photo, smiled, and said, “Well, I could have guessed that it wasn’t a puppy!”

  26. says

    So you are saying boys like to feel the fur.

    While I won’t go there, I will say I was just punning (poorly of course) on Crabby to Bitchy.

    Yup, I’m shuttin’ up now…

  27. Mike P says

    I heard it was an American team working in France… so the hairy armpit jokes might not work. Oh well.

  28. says

    the Macpherson Zoosystema article has some nice closeup pictures of the setae, including one of some filamentous bacteria found “fixed on a flexible seta”.

    this critter was picked up using the submersible Alvin‘s “slurp gun” in case anyone wants to incorporate that element in hairy jokes.

  29. Great White Wonder says

    It’s a good idea for even a blind crab to retain eyestalks…there’s a neuroendocrine gland in there with important roles in salt and water balance.

    Even blind crabs need to cry.

  30. Romy B. says

    Re the “Disco Crab” tack, has anyone else here seen Spamalot? That look is an absolute dead ringer for the chorus’s outfits in Sir Lancelot’s coming-out scene:

    His name is Lancelot,
    He visits France a lot
    He likes to dance a lot and dream…
    No one would ever know
    That this outrageous pro
    Bats for the other team!

  31. says

    I don’t really care what they are for… what me and everybody else from Bal’imore are wondering is… if you pick the hairs out, does it still make for a decent crabcake?

  32. MYOB says

    Without having read the posts above, I was not surprised to see this since documentaries I’ve watched of life near underocean vents and volcanic outlets displayed fur or fur-like physical features.


  33. Boronx says

    Does this remind anyone else of the Beaver Fish from “Brotherhood of the Wolf”?

  34. Nora says

    I think it looks really cool! It looks like a land and sea animal mixed together.

    Nora, 3rd Grade, MA