And God Created … Bone Worms

David Everson


Caution, be ready to run for your lives; watch your pets; keep your loved ones close! Fifteen species of unknown worms, which have bright red gill-like structures and invade the inside of bones with green roots to suck them hollow, have been discovered making their way around the world!

While this might sound like the beginning of some B-rated monster movie, it really is the introduction to a previously unknown group of marine worms. Neither you nor your pets or loved ones are in any real danger as these worms live in the deep oceans of the world and will only begin their work on your bones after you are dead. Let us look at some of the unusual features of the bone worms.

They were first observed six years ago by biologists off the coast of California, when a 30-foot dead whale carcass was found more than 3,000 feet deep, and its bones were covered with a bright red carpet of living things. This carpet-like covering turned out to be the gill structures of tiny worms feeding on the bones. At first described by the scientists as the “weird worms of the deep,” they are now known to be related to the tubeworms that live around the hydrothermal vents in the deep ocean and are members of the Annelid family. They have been given the name Osdeax, which is Latin for “bone devourer.” They have now been studied by taking dead whales from the beach and then sinking them into the deep ocean in areas near shore for easier access. Biologists have also learned that they will eat bones of other animals, like cows, as well.

Another part of their weird characteristics, other than where they are found, is that these worms have no mouths or guts but have green roots that penetrate the whalebones and branch into the marrow cavity. These are one of the first, if not the first, animals to exhibit a root-like structure. There are symbiotic bacteria that digest the fats and proteins in the bone marrow, living in these roots. The worms get their nutrition from the materials released by the bacteria.

When these worms die, they break down and leave open holes into the bones. These holes then allow other animals to get in and access the nutrients of the bones they may not have been able to get to otherwise. By leaving holes, the worms work as part of God’s design to decompose dead organisms of the ocean and return nutrients to other organisms and to the environment.

However, their weirdness does not stop with the worms’ feeding habits. Their reproduction is also unusual. All of the worms found on the whalebones were females. No males were found until the researchers looked under microscopes at the females’ bodies. There were the males, up to 300 in each female. Living inside of the females’ bodies, their only purpose is to fertilize the eggs. They do not even eat – getting the energy they need from the yolk sac with which they are born.

In God’s creation, many organisms perform many very important jobs that go mostly unnoticed by humans rushing around in their busy lives. However, we should realize how important they really are to the proper functioning of this world. Moses recorded the creation of sea life, including these bone worms, in the first chapter of the book of Genesis. In verses 21-22, it says “And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good. God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.” Indeed, the bone worms are being fruitful and multiplying even if mankind does not know of their existence! -Rt 1 Box 116A, Belington, WV 26250. 

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