A New Member
Bone-eating worms make a living off of the stripped skeletons of dead whales, secreting acids to dissolve their way to a good meal.
There are only five formally described species in the world, and researchers have recently added two new members—Osedax antarcticus (pictured) and O. deceptionensis.
The chances are good that this group could turn out to have many species in it, said Thomas Dahlgren, a marine biologist at Uni Research in Bergen, Norway, and a co-author of a study describing the new species.
New Osedax species turn up on almost every whale fall investigated, the study authors write in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
"Many of these whale falls have several species on them," Dahlgren added. Some are found on the whale at the same time, while others are found sequentially. "Some species are there early on in the decomposition of the bones, while other species seem to prefer later stages."
—Jane J. Lee