New Species of Bone-Eating Worm

Osedax antarcticus, a new species of the bone eating worm

Mother Nature is the queen of specialization. You know about herbivores and carnivores, and perhaps you know about omnivore, insectivores, frugivore (for example, fruit bats). But do you know about ossivores like the species of worm that specializes in eating whale bones?

Field of Osedax worms off the coast of the West Antarctic shelf

Meet the bone-eating worms, which munch on the stripped skeleton of dead whales by secreting acids to dissolve their way to a good meal. We told you about these Osedax worms, also called the bone-eating zombie worms, a while ago, but marine biologist Thomas Dahlgren and colleagues at the Uni Research in Bergen, Norway, have recently added two new species to the family.

Jaws of the male Osedax worm (Image: Adrian Glover)

The new Osedax worms were found in the Antarctic, but they have also been previously found in the oceans off Japan, California, and Scandinavia. Researchers suggest that Osedax may just be present wherever you find whale carcasses.

Male bone-eating worm crawling on the trunk of the female

When researchers studied the new Osedax antarcticus species more closely, they found that the male of the species were much smaller than the females. In fact, the males are so small that they can live inside the female as sperm donors.

More over at National Geographic's Daily News (Photo: Thomas Dahlgren unless otherwise noted) - Thanks Kelsey!

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