New research has shown that wooden plants left on the bottom of the ocean near Antarctica went untouched by mollusks and worms, suggesting that many sunken ships in the region may be very perfectly preserved.
To see how shipwrecks and animal bones fared in the Southern Ocean, the team created massive underwater landers that were loaded with whalebones and large planks of pine and oak, Glover said. They then placed those landers at three spots in the ocean along the western Antarctic Peninsula.
Fourteen months later, the team hoisted up the landers from the seafloor. The bones, which were riddled with holes, were covered in O. antarcticus. The wooden planks, in contrast, were untouched by wood-boring mollusks.
After analyses, the team found the worms were genetically related to the worms that live in sulfuric, oxygen-poor muds and use bacteria to break down their food.
Story: Tia Ghose, LiveScience | Photo: Cassandra Brooks