The Yeti Crab (Kiwa hirsuta, trans. ‘WTF?’) was discovered in early 2005 near a hydrothermal vent on the bottom of the South Pacific Ocean. At first, it was believed to be the first benthic muppet ever found, but jubilation quickly turned to disappointment when it became obvious that whatever this thing was, it clearly couldn’t count to ten. So, like nearly every new species discovery, this too was absolutely pointless.
Why am I here?
Let’s be frank. K. hirsuta encapsulates everything wrong with science: it never gets its priorities straight. We are already tasked with learning almost two million classified animal species – and that’s enough. We’re good. We’re all set. And unless a new species is something that might eat us, we don’t need to know about it.
But scientists rarely see the forests for the trees. Eager to justify their PhDs and research grants, they live to find a new species – however ridiculous – and give it a name, thus securing their place in the Pantheon of Nerds for all time.
You might want to make flash cards.
And ridiculous the Yeti Crab is. First, it’s blind. This may have to do with its living on the bottom of the ocean floor, but it’s just another reason that we have nothing to fear from it and thus no reason to be bothered with its existence. Second, it has hair-like filaments that some scientists think it might use to trap bacteria. Or not. The point is, who cares? What is important is this: crustaceans shouldn’t have hair. It’s confusing. So if you’re a scientist bobbing around the bottom of the ocean floor in a deep-sea submersible and you see something like this – keep it to yourself. Maybe run it over first, then keep it to yourself. Regardless, don’t tell anyone. Nobody needs to know.
Speaking of submersibles, the vehicle used to discover the Yeti Crab is called Alvin. It was actually used in 1966 to find and retrieve a hydrogen bomb that had been lost after an American B-52 crashed over the Mediterranean Sea. If science had its priorities straight, Alvin would be used 99% of the time for locating nuclear bombs and less than 1% of the time for looking for another stupid new species. In reality, most of that 1% would actually just go into maintenance — and should no maintenance be required, we could conveniently lose another hydrogen bomb. If all went well, literally no pointless research would go on aboard the Alvin.
Like this excerpt from pointless research:
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.
Two things here:
2. WTF, Science?
Anyway, if this your first introduction to the Yeti Crab and you hadn’t heard of it before – sorry.
You were definitely better off without this knowledge in your brain.