Stunning Finds at Antarctic Deep-Sea Vents

Ghost octopus, 'Hasselhoff crab' among new species found

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 4, 2012 4:20 AM CST

(Newser) – Stunned scientists taking their first-ever look at deep-sea vents in the ocean that surrounds Antarctica spotted new species clustered in vast numbers 8,000 feet below. A new species of yeti crab—dubbed the "Hasselhoff crab" because of its hairy chest—was found in huge piles near the outflow, as were new species of sea stars, anemones, and pale octopuses that were drawn to the lights of the robotic research submersible, the BBC reports.

The "riot of life"—much more lush than at vents elsewhere—was "like a sight from another planet," said the expedition's leader. But what the team didn't find was also exciting. The tube worms, shrimp, and mussels found at vents in other oceans were absent from the Antarctic deep-sea vents, indicating that the region is a distinct biological zone of its own, Scientific American notes.

This new species of octopus was drawn to the submersible's lights.   (NERC ChEsSo Consortium)
The clusters of crabs "almost looked like a pile of skulls sitting on the seabed," the expedition's leader says.   (NERC ChEsSo Consortium)
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