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Natural World

Scientists discover shipworm that eats rock

June 21, 2019 | Comment icon 7 comments



Can shipworms really eat rock ? Image Credit: CC BY 2.0 James St. John
Given that shipworms are typically known to chew through wood, the find came as something of a surprise.
During the days of wooden sailing ships, these water-dwelling bivalve mollusks were the bane of shipbuilders and sailors alike due to their tendency to bore holes through vessels' hulls.

In one famous case, they ruined Christopher Columbus' 4th trip to the Caribbean in the 1500s and even today, shipworms are still known to damage wooden piers and other similar structures.
Now though, it turns out that at least one type of shipworm has an apetite - not for wood - but for rock.

Armed with large, flat teeth, these remarkable creatures were discovered inside chunks of limestone and were observed not only eating through the rock, but excreting waste sand afterwards.

Exactly how the molluscs gain nutrition from the limestone however remains unclear.



Source: Phys.org | Comments (7)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Stiff 3 years ago
So there was some truth in that years-old joke about the Irish woodworm found dead in a brick? I knew it.
Comment icon #2 Posted by third_eye 3 years ago
stoned worms?  ~
Comment icon #3 Posted by Jon the frog 3 years ago
Some shipworm does not eat like Kuphus polythalamia, they rely on a beneficial symbiotic bacteria living in its gills. The bacteria use the hydrogen sulfide as energy to produce organic carbons that feed the shipworms.
Comment icon #4 Posted by fred_mc 3 years ago
Interesting. Maybe they could live on other planets, like Mars, too. There are lots of rocks there.
Comment icon #5 Posted by TrikeTrash 3 years ago
NO KILL I
Comment icon #6 Posted by Sir Smoke aLot 3 years ago
Sand which they let out of digestive system might give us superior quality silicon.
Comment icon #7 Posted by Jon the frog 3 years ago
Lots of tropical beach sand are the produce of digestion of coral by parrots fish  


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