More than 100 animal species are found living on the ancient ruins of a 2,000-year-old warship that sank during a battle between Romans and Carthaginians off the coast of Sicily
Italian researchers found 114 marine animal species coexisting on remains of the warship that sunk during a fight between the Romans and Carthaginians.
The trove of life includes different types of snails, slugs, mollusks, worms and underwater moss creatures, all of which are located on the ram of the sunken a Carthaginian ship.
The ship sank on March 10, 241 BC during a sea battle near the Aegadian Islands off northwestern Sicily.
A fleet equipped by the Roman Republic destroyed a fleet from Carthage, ending the First Punic War in Rome’s favor – but the carnage made has now produced ‘a rich flowering of marine life.’
The ram, nicknamed ‘Egadi 13’, was recovered in 2017 from the seabed around 295 feet deep by marine archeologists from the Soprintendenza del Mare della Regione Sicilia, directed by Dr Sebastiano Tusa, in collaboration with divers from the organization Global Underwater Explorers.
But a recent analysis revealed the marine life thriving on the ancient ship remains.
Last author Dr Sandra Ricci, a senior researcher at Rome’s ‘Istituto Centrale per il Restauro’ (ICR), said in a statement: ‘Shipwrecks are often studied to follow colonization by marine organisms, but few studies have focused on ships that sank more than a century ago.’
Ricci and colleagues found a species-rich community, structurally and spatially complex, with 114 living invertebrate species.
These included 33 species of gastropods, 25 species of bivalves, 33 species of polychaete worms, and 23 species of bryozoans.
Coauthor Dr Edoardo Casoli from Rome’s Sapienza University, said in a statement: ‘We deduce that the primary ‘constructors’ in this community are organisms such as polychaetes, bryozoans, and a few species of bivalves. Their tubes, valves, and colonies attach themselves directly to the wreck’s surface.’
‘Other species, especially bryozoans, act as ‘binders’: their colonies form bridges between the calcareous structures produced by the constructors. Then there are ‘dwellers’, which aren’t attached but move freely between cavities in the superstructure. What we don’t yet know exactly is the order in which these organisms colonize wrecks.’
Corresponding author Dr Maria Flavia Gravina concluded: ‘Younger shipwrecks typically host a less diverse community than their environment, with mainly species with a long larval stage which can disperse far.