Washington, January 4 (ANI): A team of scientists has found that food in the deep sea has become sop scarce that a lobster-like creature has to eat wood to survive.
According to a report in Live Science, wood might be the main course for Munidopsis andamanica, a crustacean known as a "squat lobster," which is related to true lobsters.
Although the 850-plus squat lobster species are thought to be generalist scavengers, M. andamanica is the first to be found that eats wood.
It might seem as an improbable diet for a deep-sea crustacean, but the fact of the matter is that most logs that wash out to sea eventually sink, delivering precious nutrients to the seafloor in irregular loads that biologists have lately recognized as important ecosystems.
Trawling off Vanuatu in the Pacific Ocean, a team led by Caroline Hoyoux and her graduate adviser, Philippe Compere of the University of Liege in Belgium, hauled up many sunken logs from as deep as 3,000 feet.
The woodfalls were teeming with bivalves, limpets, and crustaceans, including abundant M. andamanica.
Wood fragments packed the squat lobsters' guts.
Also present were bacteria and fungi, some of which appeared to be gut residents helping to digest the wood; others the squat lobsters had grazed off the old logs.
M. andamanica found elsewhere had bits of plant matter, algae, and coral in their guts.
According to the team of scientists, the crustaceans specialize in hard-to-digest food, wood being their favorite fodder, garnished with bacteria or fungi. (ANI)