Scientists fear an undiscovered shark or squid species strong enough to swim off with an alligator, is lurking in the deep sea.

Of three dead alligators dumped on the ocean floor two were scavenged on the spot but a third disappeared entirely, sparking chilling theories about the existence mystery sea creature.

A mystery creature was not the only new discovery either as scientists saw the bone-crunching work of a previously unknown horror worm.

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The shocking findings came last year following an experiment conducted by Louisiana University, intended to learn more about predators in an environment less well-explored than the surface of the Moon.

Marine Consortium scientists took three alligator carcasses out into the Gulf of Mexico and dropped them about a mile down to the ocean floor.

Study lead Clifton Nunnally said: "To explore the food web deep inside the sea, we placed three dead alligators at least 6,600 feet down in the Gulf of Mexico for 51 days.

“We have seen alligators and crocodiles utilising marine habitats more in recent years…so we decided to do this experiment to investigate the impact of a large reptile carcass on deep-sea food webs and large reptile carcasses as a potential carbon pathway to the deep.”

The first alligator was completely gone in less than a day after underwater scavengers, such as giant sea snails, gobbled it up much more quickly than expected.

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The second alligator carcass lasted a little longer but when researchers pulled it up 51 days later, its bones had been picked completely clean.

“That one genuinely surprised us. There was not even a single scale or scute left on the carcass,” scientist Craig McClain told Atlas Obscura.

Eventually, the researchers worked out that a new kind of bone-eating worm in the Osedax family, previously unknown to science, had efficiently removed the alligator’s flesh from its bones.

But it was the third alligator that provided the biggest shock. Something picked up the alligator carcass and carried it off, leaving nothing but a shallow depression in the ocean floor. The weight that they’d used to weigh the carcass down was found around 10 yards away.

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McClain theorised that it was probably either a very large shark or a giant squid.

But any shark or squid big enough to carry off an alligator weighing the better part of half a ton could be an entirely new species.

“I have yet to find a squid that could consume a whole alligator, and I don’t want to be on the ship if we ever discover it,” McClain told News18 in September 2021.

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