Oct 10, 2007

Parasite on Parasite

One of our resident ichthyologists, Rasmus, has sent this article to us as a follow-up to the horrific toothpick fish (of nether-region-parasite fame).

No, this isn't a shot from the Hubble telescope. Rather, you're looking at a seemingly inocuous oceanic worm. I ask you, does this worm bother you? Did I mention that it is a bone-eating worm? If you were a whale (its prefered host), you wouldn't like them one bit. These are nasty little parasites.

Fortunately, they are tiny. But here's a bit of cosmic come-uppance: the males are super tiny and actually are parasites to the much larger female! In fact, any given female might be host to a veritable harem of lesser males. How is that for social engineering?

Thanks for the link, Rasmus. I'm going to go burn some incense at the base of my whale totem now.

Photo source: Deep Sea News


Arachnophile said...

Okay, THAT's one for my nightmares!

Anonymous said...

Ain't it grand?

But Wombat, you really should give this post a title.

Nonexistant Black Feather said...

If I'm not mistaken, aren't there several types of round worms where the male is parasitic to the female? I can't think of a clear example right now, but I'm pretty sure there's one that is a bovine/human parasite that has that trait.

Anonymous said...

These worms look nasty but they are not parasites. They eat whale bones from dead whales sinking to the bottom of the sea (the so called whale-falls) and thus are important in the marine ecosystem. So I don't think that they give whales the heebie-jeebies. There are a lot more nastier worm species around!

Arachnophile said...

Interesting. That makes a lot of sense. I've never heard of a bone-based parasite before and I've read about parasites a lot. It's not a very nutritionally viable way of life but sea-bottom feeding is a whole 'nother story.

Thanks Bio Student. :)

Anonymous said...

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Greetings from Germany!