Archive for nature

Zombie Worms

Posted in Education, Science with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 19, 2013 by urbannight

Reading an article on a whale skeleton found in Antarctica, it mentioned ‘zombie worms’. The name is great but how does a worm without a mouth eat? I had to look it up.

Its actual name is Osedax and they seem to be a bright pink with feathery feels all around them, kind of like millipede legs.

Now to the question of the feeding, the drill into the bones. But they don’t have any drilling organs. They excrete acid. How is a good question since they appear not to have organs for that either.

Apparently, those feelers are the ‘drills’ that penetrate the bone and those feeler create and excrete an enzyme that dissolves the bone. The worms have some kind of bacteria that then absorbs the fats and other materials in the bones.

This is a very female dominated creature. Only adult females are found on the rare occasions that they find whale bones. The males don’t leave the larval stage and live inside a ‘gelatinous tube covering part of the female’. The only purpose for the male is to fertilize the eggs the female lays. It is interesting that the male actually can fertilize anything since they never make it to the adult stage. The female can house hundreds of these males.

Apparently, once a worm settles into a bone she starts producing eggs continually. (They eat, they reproduce, why am I suddenly thinking about Tribbles) The article that is supposed to explain how they reproduce doesn’t actually say anything else. Since the males live on the female, are the eggs fertilized as they are excreted or the males leave the female to go to the egg deposits and then return. Is it another enzyme excretion?

The worm can swim up to 10 days to find a source of bones to feed on. Found on whale bones, experiments have discovered that the worms will also feed on cow bones and other animals. So they are not as picky as pandas.

This article also shows worms that look very different from the feeding article. There are 5 known varieties so maybe they look a lot different from one another. Anoter article states they are very diverse.

Most of the articles I can find are just direct reprints of the two articles I’ve used here. Google it and you will find the same. I don’t have my books on correct notation forms with me.


Cat Dentalectomy – Things you never knew about your cat….

Posted in Cats, Education, Food, Health with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 4, 2012 by urbannight
It is a clipart cat skull.  Who knew you could find one in clipart.  See the big gaps at the front and rear of the jaw?  That is actually where cats chew food.

It is a clipart cat skull. Who knew you could find one in clipart. See the big gaps at the front and rear of the jaw? That is actually where cats chew food.

I learned something new last night.  Or maybe two somethings.  There is an autoimmune disease for cats only now being understood.  There is no method of treatment as yet other than a total Dentalectomy.  With this disease, a cat’s body starts to reject his teeth and sometimes gums.  This leads to extreme pain when eating.  But it can start slowly and my friends, whose cat has this, thought he had a bad tooth.  So they took him to an animal dentist.  Yes, such a thing exists. (Okay, three things.) 

For a feral cat, this is probably fatal.  But for you indoor cat, this is actually not a problem.  It turns out that cats only use their teeth to kill and pull meat off the body.  When eating from a bowl, they don’t use their teeth at all.  They chew with the back of their jaws.  A cat can have all teeth removed and, if they ate crunchies before, they can return to eating crunchies once the mouth heals. What the dentist does, after removing the teeth, is shape the jaw (using a diamond bit) into a chewing palate. 

The cat in question is turning into a handsome devil.  He was a very cute cat, but very overweight.  Over the past three weeks, he lost 2 lbs.  Which is a lot of weight to lose that fast for a cat and can be kind of risky.  But he is looking very good lately.  He may lose a tad bit more as he HATES soft food and is only eating when he gets really really hungry.  His daddy even moistened up his favorite dry food and mashed it into a paste and he wouldn’t touch it.  He really wants his crunchies.