Thursday, March 09, 2006

Are We There, Yeti?

I'm so pleased that they're referring to Kiwa hirsuta as the yeti lobster. I'd worried after seeing news reports saying the critter was "just shy of 6 inches long--about the size of a salad plate."

I mean, you remember what happened with the baby panda at Washington's National Zoo. Reporters kept writing that he was "the size of a stick of butter" at birth. This inspired the baby bear's many worshippers to call him "Butterstick," despite the zoo's insistence on his official Chinese name, Tai Shan, which means "Peaceful Mountain." Happily, though, as the Washington Post reports, the name "Butterstick" has stuck.

Hey, I'm all for calling him "The Stick"--that is, when we're not calling him "that furry little black-and-white cookie of cuteness." I'm just not sure it's a good idea for lovers of all things homarine to call the blind white lobster "Salad Plate." (Anyone have a better idea?)

UPDATE: I just looked at the National Geographic pic again, and realized that in the text it's being called a yeti crab, not a lobster. In which case, the creature would not be homarine, but cancrine (as in the astrological sign Cancer). But the AP story the other day said it was a "lobster." So, is this a crab or a lobster? Or do they know? And is the one in the photo a boy or a girl? Wah! Inquiring minds want to know, and we want to know nownownownownow.


Blogger sunbelt said...

Sticks of butter. Salad plate. Lots of references to food. I guess it’s a universal unit people can relate to.

But your little Yeti monster (sorry, lobster) could very well be a product of a rare autosomal recessive condition that we know as albinism, “a genetic condition marked by little or none of the pigment melanin in the skin, hair, and/or eyes.” And they usually have vision problems, hence, the blindness. This condition probably not rare for the homarine species since they have no need for skin pigment, or vision for that matter, living so deep in the ocean. If you believe in the evidence of evolution in your DNA, then this could suggest the origin of the altered albino gene, which for the most part, mammals have lost, except for those rare cases that pop up in 1 in 20,000 births.

In light of this, I think he's too significant to be called "Salad Plate."

9:01 PM  
Blogger Martha said...

Yes! Food and money, it seems, are universals. (Dime-sized, the diameter of a quarter,the width of a penny, thumbnail, etc.)

And I agree about the yeti lobster. He (she? does anybody know??) is DEFINITELY too significant to be called Salad Plate. A dollar just shy of six inches. A "sea dollar," maybe? Nah. But you're right -- definitely not a salad plate . . .

Oh, and I remember very well seeing blind, white fish in an aquarium in Mammoth Cave, bumping up against the glass repeatedly.

And ooo, ooo, Sunbelt, you just gave me an idea for one of the next "Today's Word" entries -- so thanks for that, too!

9:20 PM  
Anonymous daz said...

Gee, I don't know how you tell the sex of a crab or lobster. I guess reading the box doesn't help (as it does with napkins).

But, just learned from Wikipedia (which I love) that not only crabs but also lobsters are decapods. Nice pictures, too.

2:40 PM  
Blogger Martha said...

Hahahaha. Good point about the napkins, Daz. (And nice decapod pix on that Wikipedia page - tx!)

7:18 PM  

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