Zombie Worms Discovered in Mediterranean Whale Bone
November 3, 2011 12:16 PM
comment(s) - last by
The Osedax worm
(Source: University of Leeds)
Researchers believe the Osedax genus may be responsible for dissolving bone before they became fossils, which may have affected the fossil record
Researchers from the University of Leeds have discovered a type of zombie-like
in the Mediterranean, which may be a clue as to how this bone-eating worm affects fossil records.
The zombie worm, which is of the Osedax genus, does not have a mouth or gut, but consumes bone by growing root-like tissues. These tissues dissolve the bone as they grow. The Osedax were first discovered alive in Monterey Bay, California in 2002, where they were feeding on the bones of a gray whale. Ever since, researchers have wondered how these creatures may have affected fossil records.
But this is no easy task. Learning when and where the Osedax evolved has been a challenge because they are soft-bodied and do not preserve as fossils. Yet understanding the Osedax could provide more insight into lost parts of the fossil record due to these worms eating the bones before they could
The Osedax may not leave fossils behind, but they do leave their bulb-shaped cavities that they form in a bone. This has allowed Nicholas Higgs, study leader and University of Leeds researcher, to trace their beginnings. Last year, Higgs traveled to the Mediterranean and used micro-CT scanning technology to find traces of the Osedax.
Now, the bulb-shaped cavities have been found in a 3-million-year-old fossil whale bone from Tuscany, Italy. This is the first time the Osedax have been found in this region, and leads researchers to believe that the Osedax were widespread throughout the world's oceans millions of years ago.
According to Higgs, the Mediterranean dried up nearly six million years ago, and about half a million years later, it re-flooded from the Atlantic.
"So finding out that Osedax were feeding on this whale bone three million years ago tell us that their ancestors must have also been living in the Atlantic as well, because the Mediterranean was re-colonized 5.5 million years ago from the Atlantic. There are 20 different species in Monterey, California alone, so it's almost certain there are many more out there. If Osedax were living in the Mediterranean three million years ago, there's no reason why they aren't living there now."
was published in
University of Leeds
This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled
Net energy of this process?
11/3/2011 2:28:51 PM
Just wondering how an organism can gain food or energy from dissolving bone.
If this process yields energy then its construction costs energy. If this were true then it would make some sense but if not then how could this creature sustain its processing of bone or for that matter why. Is there some symbiotic component we don't see?
RE: Net energy of this process?
11/3/2011 9:38:10 PM
A wizard did it *sage nod*
(meaning I got no clue how this thing works :P)
RE: Net energy of this process?
11/3/2011 11:25:37 PM
That is why it is an animal even though it uses roots to digest it's food
Lions & Tigers & Bears (Oh My!) gain food & energy in the same manner. They place food in contact with their nutrient removal apparatus (aka the gut) and extract the nutrients from their food.
Bone is not stone, it is cellular material with a high mineral content. There is nutritional value in the non-mineral portions of the bone cells.
"Can anyone tell me what MobileMe is supposed to do?... So why the f*** doesn't it do that?" -- Steve Jobs
Georgia Tech Researchers Use Illumination System to Control Worm Movement
January 17, 2011, 3:14 PM
Fossil Discoveries Indicate Primates Originally Evolved in Asia
October 27, 2010, 4:10 PM
Microsoft Co-founder Paul Allen Donates $100M to Fight Raging Ebola Epidemic
October 23, 2014, 6:05 PM
Cool Science Video of the Day: Carnivorous Leech Eats Giant Jungle Worm
October 16, 2014, 6:44 PM
Facebook CEO and Founder, Mark Zuckerberg, Donates $25M to Fight Ebola
October 14, 2014, 5:06 PM
Chagrined Over Leaks, CDC Confirms First U.S. Ebola Diagnosis in Dallas, Texas
September 30, 2014, 5:55 PM
Nail Polish May Soon be Able to Detect Date Rape Drugs
August 26, 2014, 7:57 AM
SpaceX Falcon 9-R Rocket Suffers Malfunction, Self-Destructs During Test Flight
August 23, 2014, 9:36 AM
Most Popular Articles
Chinese Government Declares Digital War Against America's Top Tech Firms
October 20, 2014, 12:07 PM
Report: 2015 Ford Focus Electric MSRP Slashed by $6,000, Will Retail for $29,995
October 18, 2014, 6:23 PM
Apple Releases iOS 8.1; Adds Apple Pay Support, SMS Relay, Instant Hotspot
October 20, 2014, 1:00 PM
Windows 8.1 + Android "Sell Mini PC" w/ Bay Trail Creates New PC Form Factor
October 20, 2014, 5:07 PM
Update: Motorola Droid Turbo Coming Oct 28, 48-hour Battery Life Confirmed
October 19, 2014, 9:19 PM
Latest Blog Posts
The Surface Mini That Was Never Released Gets "Hands On" Treatment
Sep 26, 2014, 8:22 AM
ISIS Imposes Ban on Teaching Evolution in Iraq
Sep 17, 2014, 5:22 PM
Space Terrorism is a Looming Threat For the United States
Apr 23, 2014, 7:47 PM
Facebook Aims to Provide Internet to "Every Person in the World" with Drones, Satellites
Apr 1, 2014, 10:20 AM
Retail Mobile Sites Experience Outages in Light of Simplexity's Bankruptcy
Mar 14, 2014, 8:48 AM
More Blog Posts
Copyright 2014 DailyTech LLC. -
Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information