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Acid-wielding worms drill through bones at the bottom of the sea

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Tiny 'bone-devouring worms', known to both eat and inhabit dead whale skeletons and other bones on the sea floor, have a unique ability to release bone-melting acid, scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego have recently discovered.

Like all worms in their family, Osedax have no mouth, anus, or gut. Their digestion of the nutritious bone is made possible by their partnership with bacteria.

While it had been clear that the worms and their bacteria rely on nutrients such as collagen or fat from the bones they inhabit, until now it was a mystery how the worms penetrated the bones and access their nutrients.

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