I should have been a pair of ragged clawsScuttling across the floors of silent seas.
The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock
THE BOOK OF BARELY IMAGINED BEINGS
hose who named the Yeti crab must haveenjoyed coming up with a way to describeits odd conjunction of features. The outsizedfront ‘arms’ (strictly, pereiopods)
look alittle like those of the Gigantopithecus, a huge andnow extinct ape which some cryptozoologists claim asthe still-living original for the Tibetan wild man of thesnow. And the body
unmistakably that of a crus-tacean. As for the animal’s scientific name, whichcombines the Maori oceanic creator god with theLatin for ‘hairy’, this too is resonant and precise. Still,those who coined these names missed a trick becausethis crab has about it something of Janus, the god of thresholds who gazes into both past and future.The Yeti crab was discovered in
in a place justabout as far from human habitation on Earth as it ispossible to get: the sides of a ‘black smoker’ some
metres (almost a mile and a half) beneath thesea surface on the Pacific–Antarctic ridge about
miles) south of Easter Island. Black smokersare chimney-like ‘hydrothermal vents’ in the oceanfloor through which water and minerals that have been superheated inside the Earth are forced up atover
°F) into surrounding oceanwater that is typically about
°F). The ‘smoke’,which is actually a super-hot fluid, is black because itcontains mineral particles which absorb most of the
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