Examination of K. hirsuta's morphology places the species within the superfamily Galatheoidea Samouelle 1819 ("squat lobsters"), previously regarded to have consisted of two families: the Chirostylidae and Galatheidae. For the most part, K. hirsuta represents a typical squat lobster.  However, according to its discoverers, Macpherson, et al. (2005), K. hirsuta also displays a number of distinctive morphological characteristics that justify placing it in within its own novel family Kiwaidae and genus Kiwa.

Molecular data (18s rRNA) not only corroborates this determination, but also elucidates the phylogenetic relationships between family Kiwaidae and other families within superfamily Galatheoidea. At this point, K. hirsuta remains the only described species within family Kiwaidae, though another undescribed species does exist (Baba, et al. 2008).

Taxonomic Hierarchy

Taxon level Taxon name Defining characteristic
Kingdom Animalia Eukaryotic without cell walls
  Phylum  Arthropoda Jointed appendages
     Subphylum Crustacea Nauplius (two-segmented larva consisting of head and telson)
       Class Malacostraca Uropods (spatulate tail appendages)
         Subclass Eumalacostraca Well-developed carapace (shell)
           Superorder Eucarida Carapace fused to all body segments
             Order Decapoda Ten legs
               Suborder Pleocyemata Fertilized eggs incubated by female
                 Infraorder Anomura Reduced fifth pereopod (thoracic leg)
                   Superfamily Galatheoidea Pliable carapace; well-developed rostrum
                     Family Kiwaidae  Invisible fifth pereopod; reduced eyes
                       Genus Kiwa Only known genus within family
                         Species Kiwa hirsuta Only described species within genus
Taxonomic heirarchy of K. hirsuta, with defining characteristics of each taxon.  Adapted from a taxonomic hierarchy report generated 22 March 2009. 
(Courtesy Integrated Taxonomic Information System).

Species description

Phylogeny - General