Attack Of The Zombie Worms
A new species of marine worm that lives off whale bones on the sea floor has been described by scientists.
The creature was found on a minke carcass in relatively shallow water close to Tjarno Marine Laboratory on the Swedish coast.
Such "zombie worms", as they are often called, are known from the deep waters of the Pacific but their presence in the North Sea is a major surprise.
A UK-Swedish team reports the find in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
Adrian Glover and Thomas Dahlgren tell the journal the new species has been named Osedax mucofloris, which literally means "bone-eating snot-flower".
"They look like flowers poking out of the whale bone. The analogy goes a bit further because they have a root system that goes into the bone," Dr Glover, a researcher at London's Natural History Museum, told the BBC News website.
"The part of the animal that is exposed to the seawater is covered in a ball of mucus, so they are quite snotty. That is probably a defence mechanism."
I bet that Adrian and Thomas' Latin teacher is real proud! If I came up with a name like that in my Latin class, I probably would have been kicked out.