The realization that giant sea spiders have Swiss cheese-like holes in their exoskeletons has shed light on a decades-old mystery about how underwater creatures living in the polar oceans and deep abysses got so spookily huge.

Researchers found that pores cover the legs of giant sea spiders, and, as these sea spiders grow, their exoskeletons become more and more holey.

“The exoskeletons of the really big ones look almost like Swiss cheese,” Caitlin Shishido, a doctoral student of zoology at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa, said in a statement. [Gallery: Unique Life at Antarctic Deep-Sea Vents]

The scientists discovered this holey phenomenon after testing a hypothesis about how gigantism develops in cold-water marine critters. The idea, known as the oxygen-temperature hypothesis, suggests that animals living in extremely

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