A bone-eating worm was discovered recently by researchers into the Gulf of Mexico. The finding proved to be a new species of worms, the first of its type identified deep under the gulf. Researchers from the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium led the study. They wanted to examine ocean carbon accumulation, expecting to discover how the deep waters, without sunlight, could maintain the high respiration levels of deep-sea benthos.
Benthos are known as those organisms that found their way on the ocean floor and flourished there. Researchers thought that the fragments of animals might have considered for the benthos’ carbon wants.
Back in 2019, researchers put three alligator carcasses under the northern Gulf of Mexico. They estimated that almost 2 kilometers for depth are enough. After only two days, they noticed how scavengers, such as massive isopods (a crustacean), started dragging on the carcasses and feeding on the flesh.
Bone-Eating Worm Found as New Species Deep Under the Gulf of Mexico
Researchers had also observed a new species of worm “forming dense patches across the alligator bones, particularly the vertebral column.” As for its classification, the discovered creature is said to be part of the Osedax family. Such a worm is a species of deep-sea bone worms, which hasn’t been yet named.
“The deep ocean is a food desert sprinkled with food oases,” stated Clifton Nunnally, a researcher, and co-author of the study.
In the study, researchers also explained how they think that the species did not just feed on alligators. However, they noticed that cow bones, for example, didn’t bring the same results.
Researchers added: “The clade to which the new species belongs is widely distributed from California to Japan to Antarctica, and there is presently no obvious biogeographic pattern to its discovery in the Gulf of Mexico,” researchers detailed.