04/01/2012 08:51 GMT | Updated 04/01/2012 12:39 GMT

The Hoff, A Yeti Crab With A Very Hairy Chest, Discovered In Deep Sea Vent (VIDEO)

A new species of yeti crab found below the surface of the Southern Ocean has been nicknamed “The Hoff” because of its hairy chest.

The sea-dwelling crustacean was discovered by scientists exploring a volcanic vent off South Georgia. The yet to be classified creature was found clutching onto rocks in clusters round the steamy tectonic chimneys.

The crab has hairs along its claws and limbs on which it grows bacteria, which it then eats, like a kind of portable allotment.

David Hasselhoff himself is proud of his deep sea connection:

Photo gallery See Gallery

Professor Rogers, from Oxford University's Department of Zoology was part of the team. Speaking to the BBC he outlined their discovery:

“The yeti crab was first described in 2005 in the South Pacific. It was called the yeti crab because it had very hairy limbs and hairy claws,”

“Our yeti crabs had hairy chests. There was a suggestion on the ship we should call them Hasselhoff crabs. It was a tremendous animal. It was about 15 to 16 centimetres long. And they occur in huge numbers around these vents with densities of up to 600 per square metre.

“They literally occur in heaps and they look quite sinister because from a distance with their very pale white colour they almost look like a big pile of skulls on the seabed.”

Their findings, which include a number of previously undiscovered forms of life loitering close to the broiling depths of the earth’s core, will be published in this week's edition of the journal PLoS Biology.

The secrets of marine life dwelling 8,800ft below the surface was previously unknown, and in such an inhospitable environment it is amazing that any life can survive.

A remote-controlled submarine was sent down by the scientists from the University of Southampton, who also took part in the expedition, on the South West Indian Ridge in the Indian Ocean, to investigate life forms at the hydrothermal vents.

Evidence of these life forms was described as helpful in putting together a “global jigsaw puzzle” of life beneath the mysterious ocean depths.

Photo galleryDeep sea vent See Gallery