For the past few days, a video of an alligator in the depths of the sea has been circulating on several social media platforms. The video shows three dead alligators tied into weighted harnesses and dropped down 6,600 feet into the Gulf of Mexico.
Scientists used the dead animals to conduct a weird study which later revealed that the alligators' carcasses turned up a bone-eating life-form inside the sea.
The alligator study
As per the researchers, they first strapped the animals and left them under the deep ocean to test how carbon-hungry creatures in the ocean would react to a new and unfamiliar food source.
The co-author of the study, Clifton Nunnally from Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, says in the video, "The deep ocean is a food desert, sprinkled with food oases." The scientist also mentioned that some of these oases act as vents of the seafloor where chemicals come out or food falls from the surface.
Results of the study
The study results were published in December in PLOS ONE. The results revealed that while the remains of each animal suffered a similar fate, the researchers found that the third alligator had disappeared from the harness, leading the scientists to speculate that a shark chomped through the rope to haul the animal carcass away.
As reported by Live Science, the animal bones were found to be covered with the mysterious brown creatures. After DNA analysis of the brown stuff on the remains, the scientists claimed that it was nothing but a previously unnoticed species, a kind of worm that eats bones.
The bone-eating creature
As per the World Register of Marine Species, there are 26 Osedax species found as of now. As an example, in 2002 scientists found one to three-inch zombie worms - Osedax worms - which seek bones of a rotting grey whale on the deep seafloor, nearly 10,000 feet deep.
Here it should be mentioned that earlier scientists claimed, the zombie worms don't eat mineral bones directly because they digest fats within the bone.
"They secrete an acid from their skin that dissolves bone, freeing up the fat and protein trapped inside," ocean.si.edu. stated. The early studies also revealed that these particular worms can be found on fish bones and have colonized cow bones dumped from a ship.