LONDON, Oct. 31 (UPI) -- Evidence of creatures dubbed "zombie worms" has been found in a 3-million-year-old whale fossil in the Mediterranean Sea near Italy, researchers say.
It's the first time Osedax -- "bone eating" in Latin -- worms have been discovered in the Mediterranean although they've been found in a fossil in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Washington state and in the Atlantic Ocean off Sweden.
"Fossils of worms are really rare. We don't know a lot about their fossil record because they're soft animals," Nicholas Higgs of the Natural History Museum in London told The Daily Telegraph. "But, because these particular worms leave characteristic borings, we can trace them."
Zombie worms are just one of a multitude of organisms that feed on whale corpses that have fallen to the ocean floor.
Osedax worms do not have a mouth or intestine but infiltrate bones with fleshy root tissues to extract food, the researchers said.