The disturbing images captured in the Gulf of Mexico show giant isopods the size of FOOTBALLS that devour a crocodile carcbad
- For the first time, the experts saw how the ocean has large reptiles
- In the experiment, two corpses of alligator were thrown to the bottom of the ocean.
- The result was a large number of hungry isopods who claimed to devour the reward.
- Researchers keep their eyes wide open for other creatures that can join
By James But for Dailymail.com
Published: 19:28 EDT, April 10, 2019 | Updated: 7:34 PM EDT, April 10, 2019
While alligators can be apex predators during their lives, when they die, many return to the water depths to become a part of the food chain, recent research shows.
In the first "food fall" involving marine reptiles, in this case the alligators, the researchers threw two channels to the bottom of the ocean to find out how they could get rid of their bodies.
What they discovered was that, like other scale animals that live in Earth's oceans, crocodile carcbades quickly became a feast for a group of marine insects called isopods.
Scroll down to watch the video
In the first "food fall" involving marine reptiles, in this case the alligators, the researchers threw two channels to the bottom of the ocean to find out how they could get rid of their bodies. Isopods entered quickly to clean up the mess (shown)
WHAT IS A GIANT ISOPOD?
Giant isopods are one of 20 species that live mainly in the depths of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans.
They grow to be the size of a soccer ball and feed on the flesh of the carcbades of larger animals that fall to the bottom of the ocean.
Creatures can wait years between meals and, as a result, they often stuff themselves when food is presented to them.
Sometimes they consume so much in a single session that they become completely immobile.
If you are familiar with a "pill error" or & # 39; roly poly & # 39; common, it's because they are. The giant isopods belong to the same clbad of animals as their small terrestrial relatives.
For those who are not familiar with the marine creatures of capture, they can seem surprisingly similar to a terrestrial insect known as Armadillidiidae, commonly known as Pill Bugs or & # 39; Roly Poly bugs & # 39 ;.
The similarity is not a coincidence, according to the researchers.
Both isopods and bed bugs come from the same order of animals.
One important difference, aside from its size (the giant isopods grow to be about the size of American football) is its insatiable appetite.
In the video, the scientists observed some of the creatures that huddled in the carcbad until they were almost completely immobile.
However, their gluttonous tendencies are not simply a character flaw.
Researchers say that the ability to consume obscene amounts of food can also serve as a biological tool that helps isopods survive long periods of time in infrequent or even infrequent meals.
Among the creatures are the majority of lipids and fats, scientists say, that allow long-term storage of energy between meals, which can last for months or even years.
Some giant isopods kept in captivity in Okinawa, Japan, have been without food for more than two years.
A particularly shocking case involved an isopod that lasted five years without eating before dying.
The creatures were not only voracious when it came to their crocodile meal, they were extremely efficient, the researchers said.
In the video, the scientists observed some of the creatures that huddled in the shell until they were almost completely motionless
Using their strong jaws, the scavengers were able to pierce the hard skin of the alligator and even break through the bones and into the reptile's chest cavity.
Experts say that it is likely to take about two months for the scavengers to reach the middle of the alligator and, in the meantime, they will monitor other types of scavengers that can join the dinner, such as certain types of worms that eat bones.
The observations made throughout the experiment can be applied to the understanding of seabed food webs, scientists say, that offer a glimpse of creatures that might have killed other older reptiles.
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