Researchers were left stumped when a mysterious sea creature lurking in the depths devoured an entire alligator whole.
Back in November 2018, Louisiana state biologists transported three dead gators, each exceeding 5 feet in length (1.5 metres) and weighing hundreds of pounds, before dumping them into the Gulf of Mexico to try and see what lurked on the ocean floor and how food affected their behaviour.
This action was part of a research project aimed at investigating the fate of the prehistoric reptiles, exploring whether they served as a food source for the scavengers living down in the dark.
READ MORE: Huge horny sex-mad spiders are invading peoples' UK homes in search of love
But to the researcher’s astonishment, while two of the gators were eaten by isopods, crabs, snails and a new species of so-called 'zombie worms', a mysterious predator had seized the third carcass and eaten it whole by biting through the rope.
Despite the fact that the alligator, along with its harness, had a total weight of 38.9 kg (85.8 lbs), the beast had managed to drag it across 30 feet of sand.
Scientists who revisited the Gulf of Mexico drop zone eight days later discovered only a gator-shaped depression in the seabed and the weight with the rope attached.
At the time, Dr Craig McClain of the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium – which organised the mission –said there was no way of knowing for sure what had snatched the missing gator , but hypothesised a certain species of shark might’ve been the culprit.
"We have no video evidence for what removed that alligator," he said.
"Through a process of reasoning and exploring different options, we think that one of two species of shark is the most likely candidate.
Those two potential species were a Greenland shark or a sixgill shark, both of which can grow up to 20 feet in length.
Recent reports have not provided a conclusive answer as to which monster could’ve eaten the apex predators, but instead might’ve given a clue about how the creatures living on the sea bed will respond to climate change.
According toBiographic, models suggest that deep-sea ecosystems are particularly sensitive to change.
Findings from these experiments have reportedly supported new ideas about how species that live in resource-poor environments, like the deep ocean, evolve as their food sources change.
Dr McClain said that it may ultimately help scientists better predict how deep marine life will respond to changes in carbon levels due to climate change.
“If we give a little food, what happens? And then we give a little more, what happens then?” he explained.
The expert added: “Hopefully, we can predict what the losers and winners will be in future oceans.”
For more of the latest showbiz news from Daily Star, make sure you sign up to one of our newsletters here.
Source: Read Full Article