Hasselhoff Named for Newly Discovered 'Hairy' Yeti Crab

Scientists have discovered several new species of animals living in the frigid deep ocean off the coast of Antarctica. One of the discoveries, a crab with a hairy chest, has been dubbed the “Hasselhoff crab” after former Baywatch star David Hasselhoff.

Scientists who were conducting their first expedition exploring deep-sea vents in the Antarctic have uncovered a world that is like nothing else found anywhere around other hydrothermal vents.

This particular cluster of hydrothermal vents is populated by new species of anemones, predatory sea stars, and droves of “Hasselhoff” yeti crabs.

It was "almost like a sight from another planet," Alex Rogers, expedition leader and professor of zoology at Oxford University, told the BBC.

"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…in places, they reached as many as 600 individuals per square meter. They're literally, in places, heaped up upon each other," Rogers said.

The yeti crabs are thought to consume bacteria which collects on their chests. The crab’s chest is covered with hundreds of tiny hairy tendrils, which is why the crab was nicknamed after Hasselhoff.

Strange life survives around deep-sea vents all over the world, but no one had ever found hydrothermal vents in Antarctica, explained Jon Copley, a professor of earth and ocean science at the University of Southampton.

We were completely blown away by what we found," Copley said. "I've worked at vents in the Atlantic, the Pacific and the Indian Ocean, but these are the lushest, richest vents, in terms of life, that I've come across."

Although the temperature of the water in the area is 32 degrees, the hydrothermal vents propel water reaching temperatures as hot as 721 degrees. Copley explained that "crabs normally don't tolerate cold temperatures well, so the vents may be a warm haven for these crabs.”