Puravida yeti crab

The species

After the discovery of the Yeti Crab (Kiwa hirsute), scientist at the University of Southampton began to wonder if there were other species in the newly discover genus Kiwa. However, many ecologist, including some of the discovers of the first Yeti Crab, doubted other species existed, and believed that Kiwa was just a single species genus. After expeditions to many underwater trenches across the world (From Antarctica to Costa Rica), two new species of the crab have been discovered, thus adding to the former cryptid list.


Puravida, is a conjunction of the Spanish words “pura” and “vida” meaning pure life and is a common saying within Costa Rica, in whose waters these specimens were collected in. The genus is feminine as is the species name.

The Discovery

Kiwa puravida male

The Official illustration of the species

During June 2006, scientist discovered a second species of Yeti crab, which they formally dubbed Kiwa puravida. They first observed it swinging its bacteria-laden chelipeds rhythmically at a Costa Rican methane seep.

Specimens were collected with DSRV Alvin on RV Atlantis Cruises AT 15-5, AT 15-44, 15-59 June 16, 2006, February 22– March 23, 2009, and January 1–12, 2010, respectively, at Mound 12 off Costa Rica (8o 55.8′N 84o18.8′W) at depths of 1000–1040 m. One specimen was collected at Mound 11 (8o 55.2′N 84o18.2′W), although few individuals were observed there. Specimens were preserved in 8% buffered formalin or 95% ethanol. In two instances a pereopod was removed for isotopic, genetic, epibiont, and fatty acid analysis and frozen at −80°C.

Measurements of specimens are given in millimeters (mm) and indicate the postorbital carapace length unless otherwise indicated. Specimens are deposited at the Smithsonian (Holotype and Paratype 1) and University of Costa Rica (Paratype 2). Additional specimens are being deposited at NIWA Invertebrate Collection, Wellington, New Zealand, and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography Benthic Invertebrate Collection.

Vents and seeps are both fueled by similar chemical reactions which has lead to cross-ecosystem comparisons since the first seep community was discovered. Symbionts have been especially enlightening in demonstrating the similarity among these habitats. An initial description of the epibionts found on the Costa Rican Kiwa species found provocative cross-ecosystem similarities among vent and seep crustacean epibionts based on a limited number of short (~500 base pairs) 16S rRNA gene sequences. Here we build upon that research through description of the host's phylogeny and add additional epibiont analysis. Our comparison of host and epibiont evolutionary histories will provide a better understanding of the biogeography of these disparate “islands” of chemoautotrophy in the deep-sea, as we test the hypothesis that K. puravida n. sp. farms its epibiotic bacteria.


Body depressed, symmetrical. Carapace calcified, slightly convex, smooth. Rostrum well developed, triangular. Cervical grooves clearly distinct between gastric and anterior branchial regions and between anterior and posterior branchial regions; either side of mesogastric region with small sharply defined pit. Cardiac region small and depressed and separated from branchial regions by shallow grooves. Anterior branchial regions well delimited and separated by short median longitudinal groove; small W-shaped groove over this groove. Posterior branchial regions separated by median longitudinal groove. Intestinal region well circumscribed and separated from branchial regions by distinct grooves. Posterior half of pterygostomian flap with two longitudinal and subparallel carina. Abdominal segments smooth, not folded against thorax; telson folded beneath preceding abdominal somite, with a median transverse suture and a longitudinal suture in the posterior half of telson; uropods spatulate. Epistome unarmed. Mandibular cutting edge with chitinous teeth along incisor process. Sternal plate between third maxillipeds (sternite 3) well developed, strongly produced anteriorly; sternal plate between fifth pereopods (sternite 8) absent. Eyes strongly reduced to small soft tissue, not calcified, movable, without pigment, inserted near antennulae. Antennal peduncle 5-segmented, without antennal scale; flagellum of moderate length. Third maxillipeds with crista dentata in proximal half to third of ischium; epipods absent. Chelipeds (pereopod 1) strong, subequal, and greatly elongate; dense corneous spinules along distal portion of occlusal margin. Walking legs (pereopods 2–4) stout, with claw-like dactyli bearing dense corneous spinules along flexor margin. Fifth pereopod chelated, inserted below sternite 7, insertion not visible ventrally. Male first pleopod absent, pleopods 2–5 reduced, uniramous. Gills with four pairs of arthrobranchs (a pair each on P1–P4), 2 vestigial arthrobranchs on third maxilliped; pleurobranchs absent.
Yeti KrabPuravida Yeti CrabTyleri Yeti CrabYetii
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