Damn, Nature, You Scary! (Bacteria Eating Crab Edition)

by Christopher Paul on December 4, 2011

From Nature via Kottke:

Scientists have found a species of crab that cultivates bacteria on its spiny claws and eats them for food. Called the Yeti Crab for the spines that collect and grow the bacteria,

Carbon isotopes and fatty acids in the crab’s body match organisms that get their nourishment without the sun’s energy, rather than those that rely on photosynthesis. This suggests that K. puravida’s diet consists mostly of seep bacteria, rather than surrounding photosynthesizing plankton.

They believe the crabs actively farm and look after the bacteria by the way they wave their claws in the water to ensure the “crop” have access to fresh sulfides and oxygen. The bacteria and crabs are found near methane seeps. The bacteria appear to be related to other types who also are found in different kinds of hydrothermal vents.

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