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

Kiel, S., Goedert, J. L., Kahl, W. A. and Rouse, G. W. (2010) Fossil traces of the bone-eating worm Osedax in early Oligocene whale bones Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 107 (19). pp. 8656-8659. DOI 10.1073/pnas.1002014107.

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Osedax is a recently discovered group of siboglinid annelids that consume bones on the seafloor and whose evolutionary origins have been linked with Cretaceous marine reptiles or to the post-Cretaceous rise of whales. Here we present whale bones from early Oligocene bathyal sediments exposed in Washington State, which show traces similar to those made by Osedax today. The geologic age of these trace fossils (similar to 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. Osedax has been destroying bones for most of the evolutionary history of whales and the possible significance of this "Osedax effect" in relation to the quality and quantity of their fossils is only now recognized.

Document Type: Article
Keywords: annelids deep sea fossil record symbiosis deep-water sediments washington-state marine worms siboglinidae diversity annelida associations carcasses sponges japan
Research affiliation: Kiel University
DOI etc.: 10.1073/pnas.1002014107
ISSN: 0027-8424
Date Deposited: 22 Dec 2011 05:10
Last Modified: 09 Oct 2012 03:56

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