You may have heard about the bone-eating "zombie worms" and their ability to bore through the thick bones in whale corpses, but new research on the creepy worms reveals more details on the lifestyle of the bone eaters.
Researchers discovered the creatures a little more than a decade ago and found that the worms were able to remove nutrients from bones, despite having no mouth, gut or anus. But just how the worms are able to physically bore into the bones has been a mystery until now.
It turns out that rather than bone-drilling worms, describing the tiny creatures as acid spewing, bone-dissolving worms might be more accurate.
The acid is produced by proton pumps -- protein-containing cells abundant in the front end of the worm's body. Martin Tresguerres, a marine physiologist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, Calif. said he has studied these acid-secreting structures in other fish but has never seen anything like what the zombie worm has.