Earthworm [urth-wurm]: a long slender wiggling creature that is usually found in the soil and eats dead things.
Earthworms are ugly
Humans are considered to be most beautiful if they have an even and symmetrical face. Earthworm bodies are completely symmetrical, yet are not even close to beauty. They secret mucus from their skin – slimy, the skin texture just isn’t right. Their colours range from reds to browns – their skin tone is so uneven.
Earthworms have no eyes
It’s true. They have no eyes, so they must be pretty bad at navigating you’d think.
Wrong! Earthworms have pretty well developed senses on their skin, like we have on our fingers. And they can oddly sense light without eyes using a specialized organ kind of like an eye, but cannot make pictures. Imagine closing your eyes while the sun is directly beaming on them – you still know its light out but you can’t see anything. This helps earthworms avoid the light as much as possible – they don’t like dry or bright places!
Some grow pretty large
One of the largest earthworm species can grow up to 9.8 feet in Australia. Another large earthworm species found can grow up to a whopping 22 feet and lives in Africa. Let’s hope they don’t take any hints from the Boa Constrictor.
Luckily, most earthworm species in North America are only about 7 to 8 cm in length.
Earthworms can regenerate
They have these superpowers where if they lose part of their body – they can grow it back! This is called regeneration. It is particularly helpful if a bird comes and tries to rip the worm out of the ground and only takes half of it (oops), the worm will not die but instead regenerate the lost half! Incredible!
Earthworm body parts repeat and repeat and repeat
You have probably seen the “wrinkles” throughout their body. Their organs (hearts, kidney-like organs, nerves, stomach) keep repeating in every segment of their body. Imagine a human abdomen being repeated many times over and over. Humans would become long and slender if they had a body like that, too.
Yes, they poop. They poop everywhere they go.
When they burrow through the soil they must eat what is in front of them – and yes, they poop it out.
More importantly, though, is that their poop is nutritious. Through their digestive system, it breaks down the larger particles into small pieces that are more easily accessible to plants. And plants need these smaller pieces to grow.
They help plants grow!
Earthworms are nifty creatures
What makes these animals so “nifty” is their ability to change an environment just by living. They eat and eat and eat and mind their own business, yet have such a large effect on the amount of nutrients in the soil.
If they all died, imagine what would happen to the plants and the animals that eat the plants and the animals that eat the animals that eat the plants. But if the earthworms all died, there are still other nifty creatures that eat and poop good stuff for the plants. However, the effects may change everything – they may even change the whole world.
Now watch and listen to David Attenborough on Giant Earthworms: