Tuesday, March 07, 2006

New Animal Resembling Furry Lobster Found

PARIS - A team of American-led divers has discovered a new crustacean in the South Pacific that resembles a lobster and is covered with what looks like silky, blond fur, French researchers said Tuesday.

Scientists said the animal, which they named Kiwa hirsuta, was so distinct from other species that they created a new family and genus for it.

The divers found the animal in waters 7,540 feet deep at a site 900 miles south of Easter Island last year, according to Michel Segonzac of the French Institute for Sea Exploration.

The new crustacean is described in the journal of the National Museum of Natural History in Paris.

The animal is white and just shy of 6 inches long — about the size of a salad plate.

In what Segonzac described as a "surprising characteristic," the animal's pincers are covered with sinuous, hair-like strands.

It is also blind. The researchers found it had only "the vestige of a membrane" in place of eyes, Segonzac said.

The researchers said that while legions of new ocean species are discovered each year, it is quite rare to find one that merits a new family.

The family was named Kiwaida, from Kiwa, the goddess of crustaceans in Polynesian mythology.

The diving expedition was organized by Robert Vrijenhoek of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in California.

Edit: Here is the first "FURRY LOBSTER" they are referring to in the above article.

Musical furry lobster feeling chirpy

Jacquie van Santen
ABC Science Online

Thursday, 7 July 2005

This lobster makes a sound like a cricket and has a soft shell that feels like felt (Image: Reef HQ)

A bizarre crustacean, tagged the 'musical furry lobster', has been found in Australian waters for the first time. It's so unusual, with a furry shell and the ability to chirp, that scientists have placed it in its own genus. But the lobster was almost lost to science. Rumour has it the French researchers who discovered the world's first specimen in the 1980s didn't realise its significance. So, they ate it for dinner.

Fortunately, the first one found in Australia is alive and well. It's on display at Townsville's Reef HQ aquarium, run by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority. It was caught recently in a commercial fishing trawl at a depth of around 270 metres in north Queensland waters.

"Luckily, the fishing crew realised that the lobster was very unusual, one they'd never seen before," says Reef HQ general manager Patrick Filmer-Sankey.

"They put it in a large plastic tub and it sat on the deck of the trawler for a week before they brought it to us.

"Not surprisingly, it was in pretty unhappy condition by this stage, but [we] nursed it back to health and within a day or two it was 'up' and feeding.

"It's really exciting, because usually when you get a new record [of a species or genus] they wind up in museums or preserved in a bottle of alcohol.

"Here we have a new [discovery] that is actually looking back at us."

Strange beast

Filmer-Sankey describes the lobster as a "strange beast ... as big as a rabbit".

"It's a stridulatory cray, which means it makes a noise like a cricket by rubbing parts of its anatomy together, probably it's back legs," he says.

It's not clear why the lobster makes this sound, but scientists say it may be for mating or defending their territory.

"It's also furry. If you pick it up and handle it, the shell doesn't feel like hard and spiny like a typical lobster, it actually feels like felt," Filmer-Sankey says.

The serious side to the find is that it demonstrates what he says is Australia's "dreadfully poor knowledge of our marine fauna".

"We effectively know nothing about the deep water stuff," he says.

But the good news is that scientists are now assuming there are plenty of similar creatures out there.

Colourful past

A French scientific team was said to have discovered the musical furry lobster in Pacific waters near the Tuamotu Islands in the 1980s.

But it was not until 1990 that Dr Peter Davie from the Museum of Queensland officially described the genus from three female Western Samoan species.

NOW TELL ME YOU DON'T BELIEVE IN EVOLUTION! Furry crustaceans! I will be looking for more information about this .


JDHURF said...

Can't do it, I believe in evolution!!

Crazy looking creature, something I wouldn't want to run into while swimming. Experts say that we know more of outer space than we do of our deep ocean, crazy!

JustinOther said...

they created a new family and genus for it.

You mean that this thing has no characteristics of anything else? That is wild. It looks so much like other crustaceans that it's hard to believe that it's not similar enough to be in some family that already exists.

It's kinda cute too. hehe.

Stardust said...

Its arms resemble orangutan arms. It looks more like a crab than a lobster.

Stardust said...

JD - You are right about knowing more about outer space than we do our oceans. The deeper they dive, the weirder the creatures are.

I will have to keep looking for more information on this to find out why they gave it a whole new family and genus for it.

JustinOther said...

They ATE IT?

That's too funny.

First note in the notebook describing the new animal: After cooking in boiling water for 30 minutes, flesh tastes like lobster...

And, oh yeah, it's 10 inches by...

tommykey said...

Then again, maybe it's a mutation resulting from all of the toxic crap we've spilled into the oceans!

Stardust said...


That very well could be a possibility! Look at some of the mutant fish and squid they are pulling from the oceans and lakewaters recently. 600 lb catfish, clear massive jellyfish, three headed frogs in Minnesota. Who knows what mutants are evolving!