Image of the Week #22, December 19th, 2011:

From: Return of the Yeti Crab by Lucas Brouwers at Thoughtomics.

Original source: Irene Goede

This newly discovered species of yeti crab, Kiwa puravida, lives thousands of feet below the surface of the Pacific. Far from the reach of the sun’s life-sustaining rays, K. puravida has developed a peculiar behavior to ensure it gets enough to eat: it harbors a colony of bacteria on its claws which it scrapes off with its comb-like mouth. More extraordinary than the simple symbiotic relationship is the crab’s apparent care in tending its bacterial crop. By waving its claws over deep sea vents, it ensures the bacteria receive plenty of the gases they need to thrive. The resulting “dance” must have been what sparked the scientists to name it K. puravida. In Costa Rica, the saying “pura vida” means “the good life.”

This particular depiction of K. puravida was done for the Dutch daily newspaper NRC Handelsblad. Every week, illustrator Irene Goede draws a science-art image to accompany one of their animal-based news stories. You can see more of her illustrations for this feature on Flickr.