Who knew that giant pink bugs resembling cockroaches ever inhabited the ocean floors and still do and can devour the carcass of an alligator until they’re so full they’re “stupefied?”
“Most of the Earth is covered by oceans so deep that no sunlight ever reaches them. These places are dark and cold but full of life,” scientists said in a video of the experiment on food fall – the phenomenon when marine life falls to the bottom of the ocean.
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Researchers with the Louisiana University Marine Consortium wanted to know what would happen if they dropped a dead alligator, which they said was humanely euthanized, into the Gulf of Mexico 10 miles offshore and in water more than 1 mile deep.
They didn’t have to wait long to find out.
Within 24 hours, the crustaceans, called isopods, which are distantly related to roly-polies or pill bugs, quickly found the gator and began feasting on its remains, according to the video the scientists created of their experiment and posted to YouTube.
“Studying this alligator is helping us learn more about the invertebrates of the ancient oceans and how carbon from land makes it into the deep ocean,” they said.
Scientists Craig McClain, Clifton Nunnally and River Dixon wanted to learn more about deep-sea food webs and how materials from land, like alligators, which are washed out of rivers during storms into the sea, affect these food webs.
The giant isopods found the gator much quicker than the scientists expected and made a quick meal of it, tearing through its tough hide without any trouble.
“We’ve seen it before where they basically eat so much they become immobile or stupefied in their actions,” the scientists said.
They plan to return to the site within a couple months to see if any new species showed up to take part in the alligator feast.
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