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: Researchers create methylation maps of Neanderthals and Denisovans, compare them to modern humans

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

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

Study finds law dramatically curbing need for speed

Apr 18, 2014

Almost seven years have passed since Ontario's street-racing legislation hit the books and, according to one Western researcher, it has succeeded in putting the brakes on the number of convictions and, more importantly, injuries ...

Newlyweds, be careful what you wish for

Apr 17, 2014

A statistical analysis of the gift "fulfillments" at several hundred online wedding gift registries suggests that wedding guests are caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to buying an appropriate gift for the ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Clippers and coiners in 16th-century England

In 2017 a new £1 coin will appear in our pockets with a design extremely difficult to forge. In the mid-16th century, Elizabeth I's government came up with a series of measures to deter "divers evil persons" ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.

Health care site flagged in Heartbleed review

People with accounts on the enrollment website for President Barack Obama's signature health care law are being told to change their passwords following an administration-wide review of the government's vulnerability to the ...