The Hairy Chested Hoff Has A New Name
Monday 29th June 2015
A hairy crab that was dubbed "The Hoff" after the bare chested US actor from Baywatch when it was first found in Antarctic waters has now been given a formal scientific description and name, from now it will be officially known as Kiwa tyleri. The crab will probably always be remembered by most people as “The Hoff’ as scientists have no humour cells and are no fun to invite to dinner parties (just ask Oliver Brown our resident chemistry geek). Seriously though, the scientific community's interest in this animal is altogether more serious than one of Oli’s dinner parties because its existence raises really important questions about how life survives, evolves and spreads through deep-sea environments. "The entire belly of the crab is covered in setae that are designed to brush up and harbour bacteria on a large scale," Southampton's Dr Sven Thatje explains.
The Hoff’s (Kiwa tyleri) habitat is a sharply constrained comfort zone inside what are otherwise fiercely hostile surroundings. The creature was found on East Scotia Ridge in the Southern Ocean, at a depth of 2,000m. The waters down there are normally about zero Celsius, and to make a living the crab must crowd around so-called hydrothermal vents. These are volcanic rock systems that draw water through cracks in the seafloor, super-heat it, load it with dissolved metals and other chemicals, and then eject it back into the ocean. Specialized bacteria are able to exploit this hot fluid, and a whole ecosystem is then built on top of them. The crab feeds by "farming" the bacteria on its setae, using comb-like mouthparts to scrape off the microbes so that it can eat them. What is more, the crab has spines on its legs that allow it to climb the chimney-like structures that are common at these hot vent sites. This means it can get into just the right position where the conditions for good food production can be maximized.
So the United States of the World that is America has just passed the law for same sex marriages. Well Done America now you can all be as miserable as the rest of us when you get married, no more hiding!