The Osedax mucoflon literally means Bone Eating Snot Flower. It’s a small sea worm that only really survives and proliferates when there is a whale carcass for it to consume. They don’t actually have stomachs or mouths; but, instead they attach themselves to the bones and team up with symbiotic bacteria to help digest the nutrients released from the fats and oils. The males, however, don’t actually feed on the whale. The females are the larger visible snot flowers. The males actually are microscopic dwarfs that live INSIDE of the lumen of a gelatinous tube that surrounds the females. These male dwellings are actually called “harems,” and there are anywhere from 30 to 100 males living inside of a female at a time! They sustain themselves on the yolk left over from the egg that they hatched from. It is said that the sex of these bone eating worms is actually determined by their environment. Apparently when females reproduce they disperse “undifferentiated larvae” into the ocean on a quest for whale bones. The larvae that settle on the bone turn into females, and the larvae that settle on top of the females turn to males! Once the whale is consumed most of the Bone Eating Snot Flowers die with the hope that the larvae floating in the ocean will find a new carcass to colonize.
The Osedax mucoflon is only one of countless more species of bone eating worm. You can read more about them hhhhheeeerrrrreeeeee.