What do yeti crabs and David Hasselhoff have in common?
Hairy chests, according to researchers.
The newly found crab is one of a treasure trove of Antarctic creatures researchers unveiled Tuesday. Researchers called the crab The Hoff to pay homage to the actor, who also shares a hairy chest. The hairs on the crabs are actually bacteria that cover the hairy tendrils.
Hasselhoff is best known for playing the role of Michael Knight, the side kick to a talking car in the 80s TV series Knight Rider.
He responded to the biological shout-out via Twitter and wrote: it used to be a bad thing to have crabs! Allow me to introduce the newest crab to the planet...The Hoff Crab!
The findings did have a serious side, highlighting how little researchers know about life in some of the most extreme places on Earth.
The creatures huddled around a thermal vent at the bottom of the ocean near Antarctica and included predatory sea stars, anemones, ghostly octopuses and the hairy-chested crabs.
Researchers used a remotely operated vehicle to cruise along the ocean bottom and reported their findings Tuesday in the journal PLoS Biology.
Hydrothermal vents are home to animals found nowhere else on the planet that get their energy not from the Sun but from breaking down chemicals, such as hydrogen sulphide, Alex Rogers, zoology professor at Oxford University who led the research, said. The first survey of these particular vents, in the Southern Ocean near Antarctica, has revealed a hot, dark, 'lost world' in which whole communities of previously unknown marine organisms thrive.
These findings are yet more evidence of the precious diversity to be found throughout the world's oceans, Rogers added. Everywhere we look, whether it is in the sunlit coral reefs of tropical waters or these Antarctic vents shrouded in eternal darkness, we find unique ecosystems that we need to understand and protect.