By James G. Robertson
The researchers have also published some insight into how the worms get food from the bones of dead animals, and how the worms reproduce. But how they find their food is still a mystery, and will be an area of future research.
Photo: Female bone worm. Image credit: © 2008 Greg Rouse
Even more bizarre than their choice of food is the worms’ life cycle. Each worm starts as a microscopic larva, and develops once it finds a bone to land on. The larvae that colonize the bones all develop into females, while some of the microscopic larvae that don’t land never grow and develop into males. The microscopic males land on the females’ “palps,” make their way to the females’ body tube, and fertilize thousands of eggs, which starts the process over again.
Photo: A microscopic female boneworm. Image credit: © 2009 Greg Rouse
All images and video courtesy of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute.