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. #1 JohnnieCanuck
    March 8, 2006

    Punning is the lowest form of humour. My puns are rock bottom.

  2. #2 JohnnieCanuck
    March 8, 2006

    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.

  3. #3 NatureSelectedMe
    March 8, 2006

    Do you think it suffers from crabs? A crab with crabs?

  4. #4 James R
    March 8, 2006

    How would you eat that thing? Could it be boiled after living in hot water?

  5. #5 ekzept
    March 8, 2006

    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.

  6. #6 Sifu Tweety
    March 8, 2006

    an eyeless white crab covered in fur? Man, I LOVE stupid puns, but I’m not getting anywhere near that minefield.

  7. #7 ekzept
    March 8, 2006

    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.

  8. #8 NatureSelectedMe
    March 8, 2006

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

  9. #9 ekzept
    March 8, 2006

    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.

  10. #10 John Wilkins
    March 8, 2006

    Crabs in hair are nothing new.

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

  11. #11 coturnix
    March 8, 2006

    So hairy…blindness must be a sexually selected trait…

  12. #12 coturnix
    March 8, 2006


  13. #13 Geoffrey Brent
    March 8, 2006

    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.

  14. #14 Geoffrey Brent
    March 8, 2006

    In general, that is, not specifically cynical about this article.

  15. #15 G. Tingey
    March 8, 2006

    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.

  16. #16 Valued Customer
    March 8, 2006

    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:
    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.

  17. #17 Charlie B
    March 8, 2006

    I vote for a common name of the Disco Crab. It looks so 70s!!!

  18. #18 Michael Bains
    March 8, 2006

    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?)

  19. #19 John Wendt
    March 8, 2006

    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.

  20. #20 lobsterlily
    March 8, 2006

    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…

  21. #21 Gdr
    March 8, 2006

    The Zoosystema paper by Macpherson, Jones & Segonzac should answer all your questions.

    In particular, Kiwa hirsuta has “Eyes strongly reduced, membranous remains, without pigment” (page 717). So it does have eyes, but is probably blind.

  22. #22 furlong
    March 8, 2006

    I’d sure like to know what that hair is fur.

  23. #23 Brandon
    March 8, 2006

    I think it looks delicious.

  24. #24 EVinson
    March 8, 2006

    “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?

  25. #25 BlueIndependent
    March 8, 2006

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

  26. #26 DouglasG
    March 8, 2006

    Did you hear about the blond crab? He was caught by the French!

  27. #27 aiabx
    March 8, 2006

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

    Oh, the shame I have brought upon myself.

  28. #28 Torbjorn Larsson
    March 8, 2006

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

    So you are saying boys like to feel the fur.

  29. #29 Ottnott
    March 8, 2006

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

    Man, you really have sources!

  30. #30 Nullifidian
    March 8, 2006

    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.

  31. #31 Niles
    March 8, 2006

    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!

  32. #32 Niles
    March 8, 2006

    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?

  33. #33 clvrmnky
    March 8, 2006

    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!

  34. #34 Hank Fox
    March 8, 2006

    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.

  35. #35 Hank Fox
    March 8, 2006

    Furry crabs and convergent evolution:

  36. #36 CCP
    March 8, 2006

    “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.

  37. #37 isabelita
    March 8, 2006

    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.

  38. #38 Julie Stahlhut
    March 8, 2006

    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!”

  39. #39 Michael Bains
    March 8, 2006

    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…

  40. #40 Mike P
    March 8, 2006

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

  41. #41 ekzept
    March 8, 2006

    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.

  42. #42 Elayne Riggs
    March 8, 2006

    All I said on my blog was that it was enough to put me off Lobsterfest…

  43. #43 Grumpy
    March 8, 2006

    Mother always said I’d get hairy pincers if I kept doing that.

  44. #44 Great White Wonder
    March 8, 2006

    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.

  45. #45 Romy B.
    March 8, 2006

    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!

  46. #46 Phoenician in a time of Romans
    March 8, 2006

    Is the crab truly blonde?

    No, it’s a dye-job.

  47. #47 AA
    March 8, 2006

    Where is the Onion when you need them!

    Right here

  48. #48 Gavin M.
    March 8, 2006

    Clearly related to the Rock Lobster. This specimen is in its glam instar.

  49. #49 dr. dave
    March 8, 2006

    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?

  50. #50 MYOB
    March 8, 2006

    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.


  51. #51 Boronx
    March 8, 2006

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

  52. #52 Deetee
    March 9, 2006

    Blind with hairy palms?
    I think we all know what he’s been up to….

  53. #53 tardigrade
    March 9, 2006

    It is so beautiful!

  54. #54 Anita
    March 9, 2006

    To be honest, to me it seems more Albino than Blonde.

  55. #55 Nora
    March 9, 2006

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

    Nora, 3rd Grade, MA

  56. #56 Jason Malloy
    March 17, 2006
  57. #57 windowshade
    June 2, 2007

    why did i just read all those comments?

  58. #58 stephanie
    November 4, 2007

    hahaha …. dnt feel bad i read all of the comments too..

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