Kiwa hirsuta

name = "Kiwa Hirsuta"

image_width = 250px
regnum = Animalia
phylum = Arthropoda
subphylum = Crustacea
classis = Malacostraca
ordo = Decapoda
subordo = Pleocyemata
infraordo = Anomura
superfamilia = Galatheoidea
familia = Kiwaidae
familia_authority = Macpherson, Jones & Segonzac, 2006
genus = "Kiwa"
genus_authority = Macpherson, Jones & Segonzac, 2006
species = "K. hirsuta"
binomial = "Kiwa hirsuta"
binomial_authority = Macpherson, Jones & Segonzac, 2006

"Kiwa hirsuta" is a crustacean discovered in 2005 in the South Pacific Ocean. [cite journal | quotes=no | author = E. Macpherson, W. Jones & M. Segonzac | year = 2006 | title = [ A new squat lobster family of Galatheoidea (Crustacea, Decapoda, Anomura) from the hydrothermal vents of the Pacific-Antarctic Ridge] | journal = Zoosystema | volume = 27 | issue = 4 | pages = 709–723] This decapod, which is approximately 15 cm (6 inches) long, is notable for the quantity of silky blond setae (resembling fur) covering its pereiopods (thoracic legs, including claws). Its discoverers dubbed it the "yeti lobster" or "yeti crab."cite news |url= |title='Furry lobster' found in Pacific |publisher=BBC News |date=2006-03-08]

"K. hirsuta" was discovered in March 2005 by a group organized by Robert Vrijenhoek of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in Monterey, California and Michel Segonzac of the Ifremer, using the submarine DSV "Alvin", operating from RV "Atlantis". [cite web |url= |title=Easter Microplate Expedition March 12–April 6, 2005 |publisher=Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute] The discovery was announced on the 7th of March, 2006. It was found 1,500 km (900 miles) south of Easter Island in the South Pacific, at a depth of 2,200 m (7,200 feet), living on hydrothermal vents along the Pacific-Antarctic Ridge. [cite news | title = French Journal Says New Crustacean Found | url = | date=2006-03-07 |publisher=CBS News] Based on both morphology and molecular data, the species was deemed to form a new genus and family (Kiwaidae). The animal has strongly reduced eyes that lack pigment, and is thought to be blind.

The "hairy" pincers contain filamentous bacteria, which the creature may use to detoxify poisonous minerals from the water emitted by the hydrothermal vents where it lives. Alternatively, it may feed on bacteria, although it is generally thought to be a carnivore. Its diet also consists of green algae and small shrimp.

Although it is often referred to as the "furry lobster" outside the scientific literature, "Kiwa hirsuta" is not a true lobster but is more closely related to squat lobsters and hermit crabs. The term "furry lobster" is more commonly used for the family "Synaxidae".


Macpherson "et al." named the genus "Kiwa" after "the goddess of the shellfish in the Polynesian mythology," although Kiwa is a male guardian of the sea in Maori mythology. [cite book | author = Elsdon Best | title = The Maori - Volume 1 | chapter = IV. Cosmogony and Anthropogeny | pages = 89–105 | chapterurl = |year=1924] "Hirsuta" means "hairy" in Latin.

In popular culture

Folk rock singer-songwriter Jonathan Coulton wrote a song entitled "Furry Old Lobster" as part of his "Thing-a-Week" project. It references not the furry lobster described in this article, but a kind of otter and its disappearance. [ [ Jonathan Coulton » Blog Archive » Thing a Week 12 - Furry Old Lobster ] ] [ [ Is this the furry lobster you were referring to? ] ] An unspecified type of furry lobster also appears in the mythology of John Hodgman's fake almanac, The Areas of My Expertise; this was published shortly before the discovery of "K. hirsuta".

The webcomic Sheldon ran a strip a few weeks after the announcement of "K. hirsuta" discussing the unusual nature and speculating on the long-term future of the species. [ [ Sheldon strip published March 26, 2006] ]

The immediate public interest in "K. hirsuta", which included a plush toy produced in Japan, led Segonzac to ponder what he called a "cuddly-toy sentimentality" and whether people were trying to "escape the present". [cite book |title=The Deep |last=Nouvian |first=Claire |authorlink= |coauthors= |year=2007 |publisher=The Univeristy of Chicago Press |location= |isbn=0-226-59566-8 |pages=219 ]


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