Bizarre Lives Of Bone-eating Worms

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This photograph shows a female of an as yet un-named boneworm in the genus Osedax, which has been carefully removed from the whale bone in which it was growing.

It sounds like a classic horror story — eyeless, mouthless worms lurk in the dark, settling onto dead animals and sending out green “roots” to devour their bones. In fact, such worms do exist in the deep sea. They were first discovered in 2002 by researchers at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), who were using a robot submarine to explore Monterey Canyon. But that wasn’t the end of the story. After “planting” several dead whales on the seafloor, a team of biologists recently announced that as many as 15 different species of boneworms may live in Monterey Bay alone.

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