Researchers Find ‘Zombie’ Worms – Researchers find a 3-million-year-old whale fossil filled with worms known as ‘Zombie’.
Evidence of these creatures has been found in the Mediterranean Sea near Italy, researchers say.
It’s the first time Osedax — “bone eating” in Latin — the creatures have been discovered in the Mediterranean although they’ve been found in a fossil in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Washington State and in the Atlantic Ocean off Sweden.
The invertebrates do not have a mouth or gut but invade bones with fleshy root tissues to extract nutrients, earning them the ‘zombie’ nickname. Scientists from the Natural History Museum in London identified telltale borings in the fossil using a scanner.
“Fossils of worms are really rare. We don’t know a lot about their fossil record because they’re soft animals,” Nicholas Higgs of the Natural History Museum in London told The Daily Telegraph. Scientists say they can trace them because they leave characteristic borings.
Researchers say they are just one of a multitude of organisms that feed on whale corpses that have fallen to the ocean floor.