The deep sea holds numerous secrets and one of them is the existence of bone eating organisms. The fact that we humans cannot live in water gives mother nature a lot of happiness. Deep sea is home to numerous species. Researchers have been working for years to discover the deep sea creatures and have been successful to some extend.
Dinner in sea is not served. One animal becomes the food for another. Giant isopods and Osedox worms are the sea scavengers. These feed on carcass of animals like whales alligators that drop dead on the sea bed. They can be named as vultures of the sea.
Scientists have discovered isopods feeding on alligator carcasses in the Gulf of Mexico. Isopods are crustaceans with an ancestry of 300 million years.The giant bug like isopods were seen feeding on the alligator carcass and even boring though the bones, making these bone eating isopods the ultimate scavengers.
It was as a part of studying the deep ocean organisms that such an experiment was conducted by researchers Craig McClain and Clifton Nunnally, both of the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium.They dropped dead alligators into the ocean and observed them over a period of 51 days.
Giant pink isopods were found feeding on the alligators inside out. The alligator carcass was reduced to skull and spine in 51 days. They have ability to gorge themselves and then not eat for days or months to even years. They store energy and feed only when needed.
OSEDOX, BONE EATING WORMS
Osedox is a genus of deep sea siboglinid polychaetes, commonly known as bone eating worms or zombie worms.
The worms were first discovered in Monterey Bay, California at a depth of 9,491 ft . tey are usually found feeding on whale carcass. Interesingly, they acquired the name osedox (Latin for’bone eating’) as they bore into the whale bones to feed on the lipids on which these worm sustain.
Anatomically the worms lack mouth and stomach. They rely on endosymbiotic bacteria of the genus Oceanospirillales help them breakdown the whale proteins and lipids and absorb the nutrients.Osedax have colorful feathery plumes that act as gills and unusual root-like structures that absorb nutrients. The Osedax secrete acid (rather than rely on teeth) to bore into bone to access the nutrients.
Female Osedox worms reproduce continuously by spawning thousand of oocytes at a time.Male Osedax are microscopic dwarfs that live as “harems” inside the lumen of the gelatinous tube that surrounds each female. An individual female can house hundreds of these males in her tube.