These New Species Were Found Feeding On The First-Ever Antarctic Whale Skeleton


Researchers have found a whale skeleton on the deep-sea floor in Antarctica for the first time.

The find also resulted in the discovery of nine new species that were living on the carcass, according to a study published in the journal Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography

See what new species were found > 
A whale carcass found on the ocean floor is known as a whale fall. They are found using underwater vehicles, but their discovery is extremely rare (only six whale falls have been discovered worldwide so far).

Whale falls are important because they can tell scientists a lot about how marine mammals decompose, and ultimately fossilize, as well as how nutrients are recycled in the ocean, lead author Diva Amon said in a statement

Researchers used high-definition cameras to examine the whale, and collected samples of the specimen. The bones belonged to an Antarctic Minke whale, based on DNA tests. Researchers estimate that the whale skeleton is anywhere from 4 to 64 years old.  

Whale falls typically decompose in four stages. With each stage, the kind of sea life that feeds or finds shelter on the carcass changes. In the first stage, lasting from four months to two years, animals like sharks, hagfish, and crustaceans gnaw away at the dead whale’s soft tissue. By the last stages, a bunch of animals and other species will begin to live on the exposed whale bones.

The entire decomposition process can take more than 100 years depending on the size of the carcass, according to the study’s authors. That’s why an older carcass, like the one researchers found, is particularly telling about the evolution of the deep-sea sea life. 

Osedax, also known as the 'bone-eating zombie worm'





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