Bone-munching worms found on sea floor

Share via AddThis
Posted on August 14, 2013
An undated handout photo released on November 1, 2011 by the Antarctic Ocean Alliance shows the sea floor in Antarctic waters. Scientists said Wednesday they had discovered two new species of a strange bone-devouring worm thriving in the mysterious waters that surround the Antarctic continent.

An undated handout photo released on November 1, 2011 by the Antarctic Ocean Alliance shows the sea floor in Antarctic waters. Scientists said Wednesday they had discovered two new species of a strange bone-devouring worm thriving in the mysterious waters that surround the Antarctic continent.

Scientists said Wednesday they had discovered two new species of a strange bone-devouring worm thriving in the mysterious waters that surround the Antarctic continent.

The Osedax worms feed on the bones of dead whales that settle on the sea floor, fulfilling an important recycling role, said a study published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

The worms, named Osedax antarcticus and Osedax deceptionensis, were discovered by an international team of scientists probing the fate of whale bones and shipwrecks on the Southern Ocean floor.

The worms are a few millimetres long, each with four finger-like appendages attached to a central trunk.

Five other Osedax species had been known before the two Antarctic types were found.

While the team revelled in their discovery, they were struck by a distinct absence of wood-eating molluscs known as Xylophagainae commonly found on deep-sea sunken wood.

“Over the course of a year, we deployed and recovered a piece of underwater equipment called a deep-sea lander, laden with the most unusual cargo—large whale bones and planks of wood,” said study co-author Adrian Glover of London’s Natural History Museum.

“When we recovered the bones and wood we’d put on the sea floor, the results were obvious immediately: the bones were infested by a carpet of red-plumed Osedax worms… but the wood planks were untouched, with not a trace of the wood-eating worms.

 

Read more at: Phys.org

 



39,044 science & technology articles

Categories

Our Articles (see all)

General News

Follow us

Facebook   Twitter   Pinterest   StumbleUpon   Plurk
Google+   Tumblr   Delicious   RSS   Newsletter via Email

Featured Video (see all)


Sunglasses on demand
Apart from their style, sunglasses have changed very little in the last few decades. Photochromic lenses that change…

Featured Image (see all)


Solar Eclipse From the International Space Station
Expedition 43 Flight Engineer Samantha Cristoforetti took a series of photographs of the March 20, 2015 solar eclipse…