These chicas are freaky. But if you lived on a whale vertebrae and eat through bone, perhaps you’d be a little on the kinky side too, right? Osedax, the “bone-devouring” worm is weird. Now, I know long time Deep Sea News readers will be a little used to us talking about odd critters in the ocean, maybe you’ve come to expect it and are no longer shocked. We have even talked quite a bit about our good friend Osedax. But this is one critter that would infuse the pope with fear and disgust.
Rouse et al. 2008 describe yet another new species of bone-devouring zombie worm, Osedax roseus. In fact this is the fifth new species since these strange types of worms were first described in 2004 and was lucky enough to grace the cover of Playworm Biological Bulletin. And rightfully so! This paper was an excellent example of integrative biology. Not only was it a species description, but act now and the authors will throw in a reproductive ecology study for no additional charge! And whats that Craig? You are not going to believe this folks. Not only will you get the species description and reproductive ecology, but we are going to sweeten the pot a little and throw in a little molecular evolution as well! Hot damn! You are not going to find a better “whale” of a deal anywhere else! Oh wait! I have Peter on the phone right now. He’s saying that the authors just opened up a new special offer only for the readers of Deep Sea News. The first 30 commenters will also receive their own plush dwarf male!
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Thats correct folks. With every completed reading you will receive your own plush, 100% cotton dwarf male Osedax roseus, complete with hooked chaetae (see photo below) while supplies last. What is really cool is that ALL whale bone-eating worms appear to have dwarf males.
“Such extreme sexual dimorphism involving paedomorphosis is unique among siboglinids, as all other known species of frenulates and vestimentiferans have equal-sized sexes”
And just when you thought these vile creatures couldn’t get more disgusting:
“Mature sperm gather anteriorly in the body of the male and a sperm duct runs into the head (Fig. 7C), where sperm presumably exit the body”.
Yep, the dwarf males of the bone-eating worms jizz out of their heads. Disgusting. Its like puking up your sperm or impregnating your wife by spitting on her ovaries.
Whats worse? There are many (up to 114 in Osedax rubiplumus) males fruiting around inside of a female in what is akin to an internal bukkake-fest with the female enthralled in her detestable orgy, covered in the love ooze of her harem. In fact, Rouse et al. followed the worms through time and found that the larger, older ladies had a larger harem size. I wonder what the relationship between male size and female age is. Are males smaller in younger, smaller females or is there no detectable difference in male size (or sperm output/spermatozoa size) across all size ranges/ages of females?
Rouse, G.W., Worsaae, K., Johnson, S.B., Jones, W.J., Vrijenhoek, R.C. (2008). Acquisition of Dwarf Male “Harems” by Recently Settled Females of Osedax roseus n. sp. (Siboglinidae; Annelida) . Biological Bulletin, 214(1), 67-82.