[] Type of Pathology: Bore indentations

Location Found: North Sea (bone is from Pliocene era)

dating apps you pay for Source of pathology: Scavenging

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Scattered along this whale rib fragment are shallow indentations. At first glance, they might look a bit like chew marks, but they aren’t. These depressions were caused by a species of Osedax worm, commonly called Bone-Eating Worms. These worms are still in our oceans today, and have a geologic record that goes all the way back to the Pliocene (and possibly even further back into the Oligocene). These worms feed on carcasses that fall to the bottom of the ocean, and are not terribly discriminate. They bore into the bone to get at minerals and other nutrients, and essentially stay on the bone until there is no food left. Similar indentations on Cretaceous plesiosaur bones show that animals similar to Osedax have been around for tens of millions of years, if not longer.

Osedax worm

Image Credits:

Osedax worm: By Robert C. Vrijenhoek, Shannon B. Johnson & Greg W. Rouse – Vrijenhoek R. C., Johnson S. B. & Rouse G. W. (10 November 2009) “A remarkable diversity of bone-eating worms (Osedax; Siboglinidae; Annelida)”. BMC Biology 7: 74. doi:10.1186/1741-7007-7-74 Cropped from Figure 1., CC BY 2.0,