Gutless Wonder: New symbiosis lets worm feed on whale bones

By Susan Milius, 15:50 PM April 15, 2008

Deep-sea researchers have discovered an oddball worm that uses a previously unknown type of symbiosis to feed on whale skeletons—even though the worms have no mouth or gut.

Some other worms from the deep have no digestive systems but depend on live-in bacteria for nourishment, explains Robert Vrijenhoek of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in Moss Landing, California. The whale bone–raiding worms, in the newly named genus Osedax, likewise rely on symbiotic bacteria. The microbes, f...

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