These Shipworms Prefer To Eat Rocks Instead Of Wood


These Shipworms Prefer To Eat Rocks Instead Of Wood

Shipworms are a type of organism which munch through the wood. They are accommodating for other marine animals. These organisms release the essential nutrient stored in the woods. There is an organism – saltwater bivalve mollusk. They cause great damage to the piers, docks, and even sink the boats. The researchers have discovered new species of shipworms that can do much more than munching through the woods. It has the capability of changing the course of a river. They can do so by gnawing the limestone bedrock. Lithoredo Abatanica is the name of this species.

These Shipworms Prefer To Eat Rocks Instead Of Wood
These Shipworms Prefer To Eat Rocks Instead Of Wood

The Research

The research and detailed analysis by the researchers started in the year 2018. The team visited the river to collect other specimens, which can prove the existence of this new species. They found that these organisms dig thumb-sized burrows in the rocks of the river. They also found holes on some large chunks of the sandstone in a dotted pattern. One of the researchers opened it with the help of a hammer and chisel. They were expecting some shipworms moving around in it. Their assumption was correct, and they found the shipworms flopping out of the rock.

The scientists were curious to see that when they saw the mollusks, they were not at all like their other fellow members. They are very different than the shipworms we have seen. Chubby and robust are two of their characteristics, as stated by scientists. But the other worms are skinny, long, and look like a worm.

Differences Between Worms Munching Wood And Rock

Afterward, a closer study was also done and stated some more differences between this species and other shipworms. This study was published in the ‘Proceedings of the Royal Society B’ on June 19, 2019. The rock-eating shipworm has teeth that are large and thick as compared to other species of shipworms. These teeth help them to burrow through the rocks. Whereas the different species have hundreds of invisible and sharp teeth, and they cover their shells.

Saltwater shipworms can be saving whatever they consume, including the wood. The wood gets inside a digestive sack. The particular bacteria break down into that digestive sack. The freshwater species doesn’t have any digestive sack to store the stone they eat. They concluded that these organisms not only depend on the limestone to survive. It made scientists assume several things, such as may be the shipworms are taking nutrition from the bacteria found in the gills. 

These Shipworms Prefer To Eat Rocks Instead Of Wood
These Shipworms Prefer To Eat Rocks Instead Of Wood

Conclusion

A particular species was discovered in the year 2006. The species name is Lithoredo Abatanica. This species is the only one of the freshwater species that the researchers have found until now. The location of their origin is Abatan River, Philippines. The team of researchers led by Reuben Shipway, a Postdoctoral Researcher, conducted a detailed analysis of this unique kind of species recently. They are very much different than shipworms munching wood. They are beneficial for other animals in the same ecosystem. The crabs, small fishes, and crabs can live in the crevices created by the freshwater shipworms.

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