Alien world in Antarctic hydrothermal vents

Crowded Yeti Crabs

Scientists cum explorers have found an Alien World while exploring the deep-sea vents in the Antarctic. This hydrothermal vent is unlike any other vents because of the presence of new species of predatory sea stars, ghost octopus, sea anemones and hairy-chested yeti crabs seemingly creating “gardens” of bacteria on their chests.

This research has been done by Alex Rogers, professor of Zoology at Oxford University and expedition leader, and colleagues, and published online in January 3 issue of the journal PLoS Biology.

Alex Rogers said that it was “almost like a sight from another planet”. Many of the animals found there have never been discoevred at hydrothermal vents in other oceans. Rogers told livescience, “To see these animals in such huge densities was just amazing.”

These areas are referred to as hydrothermal vents because they are dayless areas of the world as the sunlight does not reach here and energy comes from the hydrothermal energy generated in the oceanic crust. These were first discovered along the Galápagos Rift in 1977.

Several species have been discovered in different deep-sea vents around the world but harsh southern Asian climate prevents the exploration there. It is the first time that hydrothermal vents in Antarctica have been discovered.

Yeti crabs are among the new species, which were present in crowds covering the area of 600 per square meter. According to experts, crabs usually cannot tolerate the warm temperature, crowding can be their way to stay warm. Moreover, new species of barnacles, anemones, large brown spiral shelled snail and ghost pale octopuses have been discovered.

Reference:

Alex D. Rogers, Paul A. Tyler, Douglas P. Connelly, Jon T. Copley, Rachael James, Robert D. Larter, Katrin Linse, Rachel A. Mills, Alfredo Naveira Garabato, Richard D. Pancost, David A. Pearce, Nicholas V. C. Polunin,Christopher R. German, Timothy Shank, Philipp H. Boersch-Supan, Belinda J. Alker, Alfred Aquilina, Sarah A. Bennett, Andrew Clarke, Robert J. J. Dinley, Alastair G. C. Graham, Darryl R. H. Green, Jeffrey A. Hawkes,Laura Hepburn, Ana Hilario, Veerle A. I. Huvenne, Leigh Marsh, Eva Ramirez-Llodra, William D. K. Reid,Christopher N. Roterman, Christopher J. Sweeting, Sven Thatje, Katrin Zwirglmaier, (2011). The Discovery of New Deep-Sea Hydrothermal Vent Communities in the Southern Ocean and Implications for Biogeography. PLoS Biology, doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1001234

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