A study conducted by Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (Lumcon) lead to an incredible new discovery.
Why did scientists drop alligators into the sea?
Researchers Craig McClain and Clifton Nunnally placed three already deceased alligators 660 feet down in the Gulf of Mexico and came back to a shocking find.
The experiment was conducted in an effort to gain a better understanding of the food systems and carbon supply of deep-sea dwellers such as phytoplankton which typically eat marine snow: a kind of deep-sea dust consisting of decaying creatures, waste and other ocean debris.
As alligators sometimes find their way into the ocean the researchers wanted to see if the alligator bodies would be consumed or ignored by ocean scavengers given its unusual occurrence.
Alligators don't normally live in the ocean but 53 days later the researchers discovered the last alligator has been eaten down to its skeleton with nothing left but a mysterious brown fuzz.
A new species of 'zombie worm'
The fuzz has been identified as a new subspecies of the bone-eating worm Osedax . The terrifying worm, however, has not previously been observed in the Gulf of Mexico and is instead usually found in Antarctica. One of the researcher's associates told Gizmodo:
We found that the DNA was different enough to qualify our samples as a new species.
The zombie worm species was previously discovered to feed on whale carcasses in the deep sea.
Other alligators in the study also returned some surprising results as well, with one of the alligators being completely devoured within one day by giant isopods who are often known to go without food for years at a time.
More shockingly the whole body of another alligator disappeared leaving nothing but drag marks behind.
Watch the video above to find out more!