New species of bone-eating worm discovered eating alligator carcass deep under Gulf of Mexico

Scientists have discovered a new bone-eating worm crawling on the corpse of an alligator dropped deep under the Gulf of Mexico.

(CNN)A new species of bone-eating worm has been discovered by scientists during a study in which they dropped alligator carcasses into the Gulf of Mexico to investigate the deep ocean's ecosystem.

The worm, which has yet to be named, is the first of its kind found in the Gulf of Mexico.
The species was discovered when it crawled on the corpse of an alligator on the ocean floor -- and completely consumed its soft tissue within 51 days.
The study, published in science journal PLOS ONE in late December, was conducted by researchers from the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium. They intended to investigate ocean carbon supply, hoping to find out how the deep sea, without sunlight, could support the high respiration rates of deep-sea benthos -- the community of organisms that live on the ocean floor.
    Researchers believed that the remains of animals may have accounted for the benthos' carbon needs. In early 2019, they placed three alligator carcasses under the northern Gulf of Mexico, at depths of around 2 kilometers (1.2 miles). Within two days, scavengers including giant isopods -- a crustacean related to woodlice -- began crawling on the carcasses and consuming the flesh.
    In the report, scientists said they also observed a new type of worm "forming dense patches across the alligator bones, particularly the vertebral column."
    The deep-sea creature belongs to the Osedax family, a genus of deep-sea boneworms, and was a new species native to the Gulf of Mexico, which would be named "in due course," the study said
    Scientists said the new worm species was the cause of the red hue seen on the alligator's lower jaw
    In April, scientists posted a vide