Bones Taste Good

Not just whale bones but all bones. Osedax worms are those bone-eating snot flowers, purveyor of all rotten and whale-like, masters of polyandry, and more diverse than we thought. Researchers here at MBARI placed cow bones, in constructed bone trees, on the seafloor and found Osedax fancies them too. Not as much though! Densities were significantly lower than those typical of whale bones.

Figure above from Jones et al. (2007). Figure 1. (a) Deployed ‘bone tree’ adjacent towhale-2893 during May 2006. (b) In situ close-up fromhigh definition video of Osedax rubiplumus and O. nude-palp-A on cow bone adjacent to whale-1820. (c) Close-up of the four palps from O. nude-palp-A showing paired blood vessels in each palp and absence of pinnules. (d )Dwarf (paedomorphic) males isolated fromthe tube of O. rubiplumus specimen shown in (b).

Write up in Nature News.

Paper at Proceedings of the Royal Society

Dr. M (1729 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Assistant Director of Science for the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, a National Science Foundation supported initiative. He has conducted deep-sea research for 20 years and published over 50 papers in the area. He has participated in and led dozens of oceanographic expeditions taken him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses on how energy drives the biology of marine invertebrates from individuals to ecosystems, specifically, seeking to uncover how organisms are adapted to different levels of carbon availability, i.e. food, and how this determines the kinds and number of species in different parts of the oceans. Craig’s research has been featured on National Public Radio, Discovery Channel, Fox News, National Geographic and ABC News. In addition to his scientific research, Craig also advocates the need for scientists to connect with the public and is the founder and chief editor of the acclaimed Deep-Sea News (, a popular ocean-themed blog that has won numerous awards. His writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web. His forthcoming book, Science of the South (, connects cultural icons of South such as pecan pie with the science behind them.

2 comments on “Bones Taste Good
  1. This is all part of the bone-devouring worm’s plan. First they take our dolphins, next? It’ll be our women and children!! Madness I tell you! Destroy all zombie worms!

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