Evidence of Osedax worm borings in Pliocene (∼3 Ma) whale bone from the Mediterranean

  title={Evidence of Osedax worm borings in Pliocene (∼3 Ma) whale bone from the Mediterranean},
  author={Nicholas D. Higgs and Crispin T. S. Little and Adrian G. Glover and Thomas G. Dahlgren and Craig R. Smith and Stefano Dominici},
  journal={Historical Biology},
  pages={269 - 277}
Osedax worms subsist entirely on vertebrate skeletons on the seafloor, using root-like tissues to bore into and degrade the bones. Paleontologists have only recently begun to appreciate the possible destructive effect that these worms may have had on the marine vertebrate fossil record and little is known of their evolutionary history. Using microcomputed tomography, we document Osedax-like borings in a fossil whale bone from the Pliocene of Italy and present new data on the borings of extant… 

Traces of the bone-eating annelid Osedax in Oligocene whale teeth and fish bones

Results show that by Oligocene time Osedax was able to colonize the same range of vertebrate remains that it consumes today and had a similar diversity of root morphologies, which supports the view that a generalist ability to exploit vertebrate bones may be an ancestral trait of Osesedax.

Bone-eating Osedax worms lived on Mesozoic marine reptile deadfalls

This finding shows that marine reptile carcasses, before whales, played a key role in the evolution and dispersal of Osedax and confirms that its generalist ability of colonizing different vertebrate substrates, like fishes and marine birds, besides whale bones, is an ancestral trait.

The morphological diversity of Osedax worm borings (Annelida: Siboglinidae)

The new morphological data may be applied to Osedax traces in fossil bones, showing that borings can be used to indicate minimum species richness in these bones.

Trace fossil evidence of predation upon bone-eating worms on a baleen whale skeleton from the Oligocene of New Zealand

Osspecus boreholes, pockmarks and collapsed galleries in an Oligocene baleen whale from New Zealand are reported, which constitute the first record of fossil Osedax traces from the southern hemisphere.

The morphological diversity of Osedax worm borings (Annelida: Siboglinidae)

The new morphological data may be applied to Osedax traces in fossil bones, showing that borings can be used to indicate minimum species richness in these bones.

Bone-Eating Worms Spread: Insights into Shallow-Water Osedax (Annelida, Siboglinidae) from Antarctic, Subantarctic, and Mediterranean Waters

A new phylogenetic analysis based on five concatenated genes, using Maximum Likelihood and Bayesian inference, supporting the placement of O. deceptionensis as a separate lineage (Clade VI) although its position still remains uncertain, and includes a new unnamed species recently discovered in the shallow-water Mediterranean Sea belonging to Osedax Clade I.

Taphonomic Implications of Barnacle Encrusted Sea Lion Bones from the Middle Pleistocene Port Orford Formation, Coastal Oregon

Detailed study of barnacle-induced trace fossils on these specimens suggests that episkeletozoans and their traces can be useful sources of data regarding the biostratinomic history of vertebrate fossils.

Turtle remains from the Wadi Milk Formation (Upper Cretaceous) of Northern Sudan

We describe here turtle remains from lag-type concentrations in channels and scours in the Wadi Milk Formation (Upper Cretaceous) of the Wadi Abu Hashim region in northern Sudan. Due to the isolated

Comparative Taphonomy, Taphofacies, and Bonebeds of the Mio-Pliocene Purisima Formation, Central California: Strong Physical Control on Marine Vertebrate Preservation in Shallow Marine Settings

Changes in vertebrate preservation and bonebed character between lithofacies closely correspond to onshore-offshore changes in depositional setting, indicating that the dominant control of preservation is exerted by physical processes.



Fossil traces of the bone-eating worm Osedax in early Oligocene whale bones

The geologic age of these trace fossils (∼30 million years) coincides with the first major radiation of whales, consistent with the hypothesis of an evolutionary link between Osedax and its main food source, although older fossils should certainly be studied.


The presence of tubular borings in a fragment of the neurocranium of a fossil baleen whale found in lower Pliocene rocks of southeastern Spain may constitute the first evidence of an Osedax-like osteophagous behavior in the fossil record of cetaceans.

Osedax borings in fossil marine bird bones

This work provides the first evidence that Osedax was, and most likely still is, able to consume non-mammalian bones, namely bird bones.

Bone-Boring Worms: Characterizing the Morphology, Rate, and Method of Bioerosion by Osedax mucofloris (Annelida, Siboglinidae)

X-ray micro-computed tomography is used to investigate the borings of Osedax mucofloris in bones of the minke whale, quantitatively detailing their morphological characteristics for the first time and hypothesizing a model of boring that is dependent on the density and microstructure of the bone.


Abstract The recovery of an intact, 10 m long fossil baleen whale from the Pliocene of Tuscany (Italy) offers the first opportunity to study the paleoecology of a fully developed, natural whale-fall

Not whale-fall specialists, Osedax worms also consume fishbones

The ability of Osedax to colonize and to grow on fishbone lends credibility to a hypothesis that it might have split from its siboglinid relatives to assume the bone-eating lifestyle during the Cretaceous, well before the origin of marine mammals.

The palaeobiology of trace fossils

Nomenclature and Taxonomy of Invertebrate Trace Fossils and the Ichnofacies Concept: Implications for Paleoecology and Palichnostratigraphy and the Fossil Record of Vertebrate Eggs.

World-wide whale worms? A new species of Osedax from the shallow north Atlantic

Molecular evidence from mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase 1 (CO1) and 18S rRNA sequences suggests that O. mucofloris has high dispersal rates, and provides support for the idea of whale-falls acting as ‘stepping-stones' for the global dispersal of siboglinid annelids over ecological and evolutionary time.

A remarkable diversity of bone-eating worms (Osedax; Siboglinidae; Annelida)

Molecular and morphological evidence for strong phylogenetic concordance across five separate genes suggests that the undescribed Osedax lineages comprise evolutionarily significant units that have been separate from one another for many millions of years.