A 2011 study led by Rouse found that bone worms have primarily been found attached to whale skeletons, but they are capable of making a living on other bones as well, including fish (http://scrippsnews.ucsd.edu/Releases/?releaseID=1153). That finding supported a hypothesis that Osedax's bone-eating lifestyle may have evolved millions of years ago, even before the dawn of marine mammals.
To continue learning more about bone worms, the scientists plan to collaborate with colleagues at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in the coming months to collect and study additional bone samples with live worm specimens. They also plan to maintain live Osedax in aquaria at Scripps to study their physiology.
"Determining how Osedax gets into bones was the first challenge in understanding the nutrition of these bizarre animals," said Rouse. "Now we'd like to understand how they transport and utilize the nutrients that they have uncovered."
|Contact: Mario Aguilera or Robert Monroe|
University of California - San Diego