Zombie worms found in Britain's North Sea

Oct 19, 2005

So-called zombie worms that feed on bones of dead whales have reportedly been found in England's North Sea.
Scientists say the worms belong to a new class of marine organism that scavenges whale carcasses, The Independent reported Wednesday.

"We were astounded to discover a species completely new to science in an environment that is so well known," Adrian Glover, a marine biologist at the Natural History Museum in London, told the newspaper.

Glover and Thomas Dahlgren of Goteborg University in Sweden reported finding the new worm on the bones of a dead, stranded minke whale.

The scientists named the worm Osedax mucofloris, which means bone-eating snot flower.

"We sometimes called them snot worms because, when they retreat into their tubes, they leave mucus behind which is probably a defensive mechanism," Glover told the Independent.

Last year, U.S. scientists found similar organisms feeding on the bones of dead whales buried at depths of 8,000 feet. They nicknamed the species "zombie worms."

But the North Sea species is genetically distinct from the species discovered off the coast of California, said a study published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.

Copyright 2005 by United Press International

Explore further: Mapping the world's linguistic diversity—scientists discover links between your genes and the language you speak

Related Stories

Getting to the bottom of the zombie ant phenomenon

May 22, 2013

(Phys.org) —While unraveling a dramatic case of mind control, biologist David Hughes is taking calls from Hollywood—and gaining new insights into the role behavior plays in spreading disease.

Mystery of 'zombie worm' development unveiled

Mar 12, 2013

How do bone-eating worms reproduce? A new study by Norio Miyamoto and colleagues from the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology sheds light on this question through a detailed observation of ...

Bone-eating 'zombie' worms can no longer hide

Oct 31, 2011

Bone-eating 'zombie' worms may be good at keeping out of sight, living off dead whales in the darkness of the sea floor, but scientists have found out how to detect them, even if there’s no trace of their ...

Recommended for you

Lady, you're on the money

Jul 03, 2015

So far, women whose portraits appear on U.S. money have been a party of three. Excluding commemorative currency, only Sacagawea, Susan B. Anthony and Helen Keller appear on coins in general circulation, according ...

Old World monkey had tiny, complex brain

Jul 03, 2015

The brain hidden inside the oldest known Old World monkey skull has been visualized for the first time. The creature's tiny but remarkably wrinkled brain supports the idea that brain complexity can evolve ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.