Hi Annelida watchers,
Keith & Geoff saw this story on BBC News Online and thought you
should see it.
** 'Zombie worms' found off Sweden **
Scientists describe a new species of marine worm found off the Swedish coast
that lives off the bones of dead whales. <
A new species of marine worm that lives off whale bones on the sea floor has
been described by scientists.
The creature was found on a minke carcass in relatively shallow water close to
Tjarno Marine Laboratory on the Swedish coast.
Such "zombie worms", as they are often called, are known from the deep waters
of the Pacific but their presence in the North Sea is a major surprise.
A UK-Swedish team reports the find in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
Subscriber access only to full text. There is a quicktime video supplementary
Glover, A. G.; Källström, B.; Smith, C. R. ; Dahlgren, T. G. 2005: World-wide
whale worms? A new species of Osedax from the shallow north Atlantic.
Proceedings of the Royal Society B FirstCite Early Online Publishing:
ABSTRACT: We describe a new species of the remarkable whalebone-eating
siboglinid worm genus, Osedax , from a whale carcass in the shallow north
Atlantic, west of Sweden. Previously only recorded from deep-sea (15003000m)
whale-falls in the northeast Pacific, this is the first species of Osedax
known from a shelf-depth whale-fall, and the first from the Atlantic Ocean.
The new species, Osedax mucofloris sp. n. is abundant on the bones of an
experimentally implanted Minke whale carcass (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) at
125m depth in the shallow North Sea. O. mucofloris can be cultured on bones
maintained in aquaria. The presence of O. mucofloris in the shallow North Sea
and northeast Pacific suggests global distribution on whale-falls for the
Osedax clade. Molecular evidence from mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase 1 (CO1)
and 18S rRNA sequences suggests that O. mucofloris has high dispersal rates,
and provides support for the idea of whale-falls acting as stepping-stones
for the global dispersal of siboglinid annelids over ecological and
Geoff Read <g.read at niwa.co.nz>