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Yeti crab with hairy chest discovered by British scientists (VIDEO)

The yeti crab, a new species discovered in large numbers on the South Ocean floor, has been nicknamed 'The Hoff' for its very hairy chest.

Crabs 04012012Enlarge
The recently discovered yeti crab is far from your average crustacean: it has a hairy chest and arms. (Justin Sullivan/AFP/Getty Images)

Yetis don't just stomp around the Himalayas: apparently, they also crawl on the ocean floor.  

A new species of yeti crab has been discovered deep in the South Ocean by a team of British scientists. The crab has yet to be formally classified, and has been nicknamed "the Hoff" because of its extremely hairy chest, BBC News reported

"The crab occurs in staggering densities. It is just incredible to see these animals literally lying in heaps around the diffuse flow of these vents," Dr Alex Rogers, the leader of the research cruise and a professor at Oxford University's Department of Zoology, told the BBC. "In places, they reached as many as 600 individuals per square meter (about 55 crabs per square foot)."  

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A community of the creatures was discovered near volcanic vents off South Georgia, but the species was first identified in the southern Pacific in 2005. They have hairs, or setae, that grow on their claws and limbs, BBC reported. The crabs use these hairs to cultivate bacteria, which they eat.

David Hasselhoff, the American actor known for his bare chest, was thrilled to be the inspiration for the crab's namesake.

"It used to be a bad thing to have crabs!" He tweeted on Wednesday. "Allow me to introduce the newest crab to the planet...The Hoff Crab!" 

The yeti crab is just one of many new species discovered on the cruise, which included researchers from the University of Southampton, the National Oceanography Center, and the British Antarctic Survey. The scientists have reported discoveries of new species of starfish, barnacles, sea anemones, and even an octopus, all living up to 8,800 feet below the water's surface. 

The researchers sent Isis, a deep-diving robotic submarine, to investigate the deep sea, traditionally thought of as an inhospitable environment unable to sustain much life. 

In their online journal of the expedition, the scientists have called their discoveries "another missing piece in the global "jigsaw puzzle" of life at deep-sea vents." 

The cruise's findings are published in the current edition of PLoS Biology's weekly journal.

"Lost World" Uncovered on Ocean Floor
Science News by NewsLook

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/business-tech/science/120104/yeti-crab-hairy-chest-discovered