Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Bone-Eating Worms Found In Antarctic Waters

samzenpus posted about a year ago | from the stays-crunchy dept.

Science 38

sciencehabit writes "When you drop a whale backbone into Antarctic waters and retrieve it a year later, you'll find it covered with a pelt of wriggling, rosy-hued worms. Drop a chunk of wood in the same spot, and you'll discover that it's hardly changed. That's the result of a simple experiment to find out if some of the world's weirdest worms also live in Antarctic waters. The discovery extends the range of bone-eating worms to the Southern Ocean and suggests that Antarctic shipwrecks may be remarkably intact."

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Aha! (5, Funny)

Cryacin (657549) | about a year ago | (#44580231)

When you drop a whale backbone into Antarctic waters and retrieve it a year later, you'll find it covered with a pelt of wriggling, rosy-hued worms

So *this* is the "scientific research" that the Japanese are performing.

Re:Aha! (3, Insightful)

Fluffeh (1273756) | about a year ago | (#44580315)

No, they do "research" that is much less scientific.

"I wonder if THIS whale tastes any different to the others we have caught today...."

Re:Aha! (3, Funny)

cheater512 (783349) | about a year ago | (#44580497)

And is it better with soy sauce or sweet chilli?

Re:Aha! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44580739)

soy sauce

Re:Aha! (1)

Salgak1 (20136) | about a year ago | (#44582175)

Rooster sauce, improves ANYTHING. . .

Re:Aha! (1)

g0bshiTe (596213) | about a year ago | (#44585413)

I'm one of 5 /. users that understands that reference and yes it does improve anything.

Re:Aha! (2)

rubycodez (864176) | about a year ago | (#44586239)

plenty of slashdotters use the sriracha like most americans use ketchup

Re:Aha! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44587269)

Plenty of slashdotters have no idea what sriracha is at all.

Re:Aha! (3, Funny)

Black Parrot (19622) | about a year ago | (#44580853)

When you drop a whale backbone into Antarctic waters and retrieve it a year later, you'll find it covered with a pelt of wriggling, rosy-hued worms

So *this* is the "scientific research" that the Japanese are performing.

After Fukushima, one of those little wormies might be the next Gojira.

Re:Aha! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44580993)

After Fukushima, those little wormies might eat YOU!

Re:Aha! (1)

The_Other_Kelly (44440) | about a year ago | (#44581467)

I thought the experiment goal was: To see, into how many tins, they can fit a whale ...

Re:Aha! (1)

AlienSexist (686923) | about a year ago | (#44581509)

Yes, definitely the Japanese [southparkstudios.com] Starting about 0:35

Re: Aha! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44584327)

fuck u

Not surprising (1)

SnarfQuest (469614) | about a year ago | (#44580265)

What else is there to do in the Arctic on a weekend. Gnaw on bones, ar stay at home. I wouldn't ve surprised to find out that the scientists had already gnawed the bones first.

Re:Not surprising (1)

cb88 (1410145) | about a year ago | (#44580293)

At first I thought you were talking about cannibalism, gnawing on 'bones' and all... then I realised I've been watching too much start trek. Sigh... prolly should have read the article.

Re:Not surprising (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44580687)

This is the Antarctic, not the Arctic.
As for stuff to do on the weekends, I'm guessing you've not seen many David Attenborough documentaries... because if the photos my friends who've worked there are anything to go by, those doccos are daily life.
The Australian Antarctic base has a pool room and make their own beer & spirits. It's pretty much a big pub, populated by scientists, and if you go outside unprotected in winter you only have minutes to live. (I want to work there so bad.)

Re:Not surprising (2)

lxs (131946) | about a year ago | (#44580879)

Typical nerd. Any excuse to stay indoors.

Re:Not surprising (1)

P-niiice (1703362) | about a year ago | (#44584423)

They have weed, pool, and the flamethrower. Occasionally, a dog might come running into camp neing chased by a helicopter. It's not totally boring.

Unspoken (2)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about a year ago | (#44580289)

The discovery extends the range of bone-eating worms to the Southern Ocean and suggests that Antarctic shipwrecks may be remarkably intact.

The boats, maybe; but apparently not the crew...

Re:Unspoken (0)

Joce640k (829181) | about a year ago | (#44580963)

And so it begins...

Re:Unspoken (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about a year ago | (#44584887)

I'd like to thank the bone-eating worms for protecting us from hordes of white walkers swimming their way from Antarctica. We don't have a wall, we have worms!

Wouldn't it of been easier ... (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about a year ago | (#44580471)

And more scientifically valid to just compare known whale skeletons and shipwrecks?

Maybe the wood worms just spread out and find new wood to eat on an annual cycle, or are just really slow to find new wood.
"I put this wood in the ocean for a short time, and no worms ate it" gives you no actual information.

Re:Wouldn't it of been easier ... (2)

Mashiki (184564) | about a year ago | (#44580607)

There's a much simpler answer. It's not even seasonal, the lack of wood in general doesn't foster that type of ecosystem. Once you're above the treeline you're not going to find much if any wood, except that which has either made the trip via humans, or by natural disasters.

Depth, temperature and current more important (3, Insightful)

dutchwhizzman (817898) | about a year ago | (#44580793)

At any location a few hundred miles out of the coast, the chances of wood ending up there are way too small for any species to rely on that. In general, almost all wood floats. Wooden ship wrecks sink mainly because ships have ballast and metal bits, or the lighter than water parts are eaten by bacteria. It's the same bacteria that eventually will make all thrift wood sink, unless it's washed ashore somewhere. Wood that is heavier than water by itself tends to not end up far from shores anyway.

Given the fact that wood is a rare food source under water regardless of where you are, the question is what the wildlife that causes ship wrecks to decay feasts on when they are lacking historical nautical drama to dine on. Apparently the Antarctic seas aren't providing enough of that to be a sustainable habitat for these creatures. There are plenty of algae available in the higher layers of the Antarctic seas, or they wouldn't be able to sustain the krill population that the whales and fish feed on, but it could very well be that that is the only plant life and no larger plants are growing there. I haven't bothered looking that up, but it sounds to me that this is a much more likely explanation than "lack of trees on land" would be.

Re:Depth, temperature and current more important (3, Interesting)

TapeCutter (624760) | about a year ago | (#44581445)

Yes, I think it's safe to assume that most wood enters the ocean via rivers, I would expect the vast majority of it is consumed by hungry critters before it gets of the river's underwater delta. From personal experience I worked on a fishing trawler in the Southern Ocean many years ago, even back in the 80's the ship pretty much drove itself but there had to be someone on watch at all times to avoid hazards (identified on the radar). Floating trees were the main worry but I only saw one or two when out at sea, which seems to agree with what your saying. The vast majority of the hazards turned out to be either floating beer cans, or sun-baking seals. Yes, they were Aussie seals, but I still haven't figured out how they managed the ring-pull with those flippers. :)

Re:Depth, temperature and current more important (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44586269)

Logs that have been long submerged in fresh water are often quite valuable. Logs well over 100 years in age are hunted and retrieved and often display little if any decay issues. Apparently cold, deep water is best whether fresh or salt.

Re:Depth, temperature and current more important (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44582483)

Sounds like there's a lot that you haven't bothered to look up. The majority of wooden ships are made of wood denser than water, they stay afloat by displacement.
Oak is the usual material for structural parts and hull of a ship, whereas teak is used in areas that need to be even sturdier. The softwoods that are lighter than water are far too weak to make a ship, but are fine for smaller boats and rafts.

Re:Wouldn't it of been easier ... (4, Funny)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year ago | (#44580713)

Maybe the wood worms just spread out and find new wood to eat on an annual cycle, or are just really slow to find new wood.

Where would this wood come from? The tropical rainforests of Antarctica?

Re:Wouldn't it of been easier ... (1)

H0p313ss (811249) | about a year ago | (#44580817)

Maybe the wood worms just spread out and find new wood to eat on an annual cycle, or are just really slow to find new wood.

Where would this wood come from? The tropical rainforests of Antarctica?

Shhh.... everyone will want one.

Re:Wouldn't it of been easier ... (1)

Scoldog (875927) | about a year ago | (#44580823)

Maybe the wood worms just spread out and find new wood to eat on an annual cycle, or are just really slow to find new wood.

Where would this wood come from? The tropical rainforests of Antarctica?

Close. The tropical rainforests of Atlantis actually.

Re:Wouldn't it of been easier ... (2)

Nyder (754090) | about a year ago | (#44581675)

Maybe the wood worms just spread out and find new wood to eat on an annual cycle, or are just really slow to find new wood.

Where would this wood come from? The tropical rainforests of Antarctica?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Savage_Land [wikipedia.org]

Pristine and intact. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44580907)

"Just picture famed Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton’s ship Endurance, which sank in 1915 in western Antarctic waters. Its pine and oak hull now lie on the sea floor, most likely pristine and intact, awaiting discovery."

That ship was crushed to pieces in the ice, hardly pristine and intact.

These worms.. (4, Funny)

StarfishOne (756076) | about a year ago | (#44581031)

.. are said to be b-b-b-b-bad to the bone. ;-)

Nature has an answer for everything it seems. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44581727)

In other news, why does my skeleton hurt? Find out why I don't care about your hurting skeletons after the break.

wormpocalypse is upon us (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44582535)

crappy series in 3..2..1

Most terrifying statement ever. (1)

RobSwider (669148) | about a year ago | (#44582645)

"The discovery extends the range of bone-eating worms..." It's unsettling to know their range is 'extended'. It's terrifying when you didn't know there were BONE EATING WORMS.

This Just In! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44584699)

Bone eating worms exist where there are bones to be eaten! Details at 11.

This is research? (1)

cyn1c77 (928549) | about a year ago | (#44585671)

I don't really think that it is that novel a discovery that that there are bone eating organisms in a part of the ocean where animals regularly die and discard bone matter. Nor is it particularly odd that there are no wood-eating worms in an area that hasn't had any trees for several million years.

Hopefully there was more than that to their research focus.

Check for New Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?