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The Yeti Crab!? Antarctic Marine Biodiversity and Deep-Sea Hydrothermal Vents Produce New Undiscovered Species of Marine Life

Posted: January 5th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Cankler Science News, Ecology | Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off on The Yeti Crab!? Antarctic Marine Biodiversity and Deep-Sea Hydrothermal Vents Produce New Undiscovered Species of Marine Life

The Yeti Crab - Antarctic Marine Biodiversity, Deep-Sea Hydrothermal VentsA seven-pronged starfish, a mysterious pale octopus and a new kind of ‘yeti’ crab are among a teeming community of previously undiscovered life on the sea floor near Antarctica, British researchers said. The species, described this week on the online journal PloS Biology, were first glimpsed in 2010 when researchers lowered a robotic vehicle to explore the East Scotia Ridge deep beneath the Southern Ocean, between Antarctica and the tip of South America. The dark and remote area is home to hydrothermal vents, which are deep-sea springs that spew liquid at temperatures of up to 382 degrees Celsius, and have previously been found to host unusual life forms in other parts of the world.

“Hydrothermal vents are home to animals found nowhere else on the planet that get their energy not from the Sun but from breaking down chemicals, such as hydrogen sulphide,” said lead researcher Alex Rogers of Oxford University. “The first survey of these particular vents, in the Southern Ocean near Antarctica, has revealed a hot, dark, ‘lost world’ in which whole communities of previously unknown marine organisms thrive.”

Vent ecosystems have been documented from many sites across the globe, associated with the thermally and chemically variable habitats found around these, typically high temperature, streams that are rich in reduced compounds and polymetallic sulphides. This most recent work by Steven Chown and his team of researchers has brought to the surface some pretty incredible findings, animal communities of the Southern Ocean vent ecosystems are very different to those found at other vent locations around the globe. Much of the biological significance of deep-sea hydrothermal vents lies in their biodiversity, the diverse biochemistry of their bacteria, the remarkable symbioses among many of the marine animals and these bacteria, and the prospects that investigations of these systems hold for understanding the conditions that may have led to the first appearance of life. Read the full article »»»»