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Discovery Magazine 2/1/2011

The Slimy Friends Living Beneath Us

It may be hard to believe, but the earthworm (also known as the angleworm) is a complicated little creature with more than 1,800 different species found worldwide—30 of which are in the eastern United States. The most common earthworm in the U.S. grows to be about 10 inches in length. Its reddish-brown color is due to the pigment hemoglobin in its blood, although an earthworm in Great Britain is green in color. Amazingly, an Australian earthworm species grows to be about 11 feet in length (a basketball goal is only 10 feet high!).

The earthworm is an invertebrate, meaning that it does not have a backbone. Its body is divided into ring-like segments. As a “segmented worm,” the earthworm belongs in the same phylum with marine worms and leeches. The common earthworm in the U.S. can have as many as 150 segments, and some organs, including the organs that eliminate waste, are copied in every segment. God also gave some worms an amazing ability. Certain earthworm species can regrow segments or body parts if they get cut off—a feature which evolutionists cannot hope to explain through the theory of evolution. Some have even been known to regenerate a head, which, believe it or not, is not the only body part that breathes oxygen for the earthworm’s survival. Interestingly, they receive oxygen through their skin. They also cannot see or hear, but are very sensitive to vibrations and light. The earthworm is hermaphroditic, meaning that each worm has the reproductive organs of both sexes. The “clitellum” is a bulged organ on the earthworm that makes a sack for holding the worm’s eggs after mating. Baby worms are born from the sack in only two to four weeks.

Earthworms tend to live near the soil surface. However, one Asian species is known to climb trees to try to escape drowning during heavy rainfall. For food, earthworms eat the plants and other organisms found in the soil in which they live. However, they also eat the soil itself along the way, as well as sand and tiny pebbles. In fact, earthworms eat so much food that scientists estimate that the amount of food they eat and discard every day equals their own bodyweight!

You might wonder, “What are those little slimy guys good for?” We can know that God had a special purpose in mind for everything He created in this wonderful world around us. This is true for the squirmy little earthworm as well. For instance, when the Bible says that God feeds the birds of the air (Matthew 6:26), the earthworm probably crossed His mind, because they certainly serve as food for birds. Earthworms also help humans gather food in that they often serve as bait for fishermen who wish to lure fish to their hooks. Even more interestingly, earthworms are great for gardens. Gardeners estimate that a good vegetable garden should have at least 10 earthworms in every square foot of gardening space. The worms burrow many tunnels in the soil, which allow oxygen to get to the plant roots and other organisms that live in the soil. They also help with water drainage and draw materials into their burrows that help in growing healthy plants and vegetables. We can know that God was certainly thinking about the needs of human beings—made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27)—when He created the slick and slithery earthworm.

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