Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Shark vs. crustacean ... we know who wins

A colleague this morning informed me of a discovery of a new shark species, which was neat, but didn't thrill me. But then I got home and read on BoingBoing and Pharyngula about a new deep-sea crustacean; I immediately started looking for the journal article (its full text can be found as a PDF here). I mean come on, one lives only a few hundred feet down in some boring ol' coastal sea and has pretty typical vertebrate anatomy, while the other lives in 7,500-foot deep water near hydrothermal vents, is covered in fine hairs setae, and is blind. Which would you rather learn about?

new crustacean
Kiwa hirsuta

The journal article (PDF) has many more pictures of the new crustacean, as well as a description of its habitat:
The new species occurs at densities of one to two individuals per 10m^2, more or less regularly spaced on the zone of pillow basalt surrounding active hydrothermal vents (Fig. 2). The species co-occurs with galatheid squat lobsters (genus Munidopsis Whiteaves, 1874), crabs (genus Bythograe Williams, 1980), vent mussels (genus Bathymodiolus Kenk & Wilson, 1985) and buccinid gastropods. Specimens of Kiwa hirsuta n. gen., n. sp. were also observed on extinct chimneys and at the base of black smokers, among vent mussels, where shimmering milky water emanates. Like other vent decapod crustaceans Kiwa hirsuta n. gen., n. sp. is probably omnivorous. Specimens were observed in situ consuming tissues of mussels damaged by submersible sampling activities.
The researchers used genetic data to determine that this new crustacean is in a completely new family (Kiwaidae) contained within superfamily Galatheoidea and infraorder Anomura. The anomurans most people are likely to know are hermit crabs, which are in a different superfamily (Paguroidea) than this newly discovered species. True crabs (the kind you have likely eaten) fall into another infraorder (Brachyura), and lobsters are in yet another infraorder (Astacidea). So, in other words, this is not a new crab, lobster, or hermit crab; the closest known relatives of this new species are squat lobsters.

Macpherson, E., W. Jones, and M. Segonzaca. 2006. A new squat lobster family of Galatheoidea (Crustacea, Decapoda, Anomura) from the hydrothermal vents of the Pacific-Antarctic Ridge. Zoosystema 27 (4): 709-723.

No comments: