Thursday, October 23, 2008

Worm Grunters?

Who knew? Worm grunters, aka snorers and fiddlers, wander around poking and prodding the ground in search of earthworms for fish bait. They actually make a living doing this, and – apparently – they have Charles Darwin to thank, along with Wired News for highlighting their utterly intriguing work.

“It is often said that if the ground is beaten or otherwise made to tremble worms will believe that they are pursued by a mole and leave their burrows,” Charles Darwin wrote in The Formation of Vegetable Mould through the Action of Worms, a book that “reflects his enduring and instructive fascination” with a creature that people either ignore or step on.

Ken Catania, a biologist from Vanderbilt University, is testing Darwin’s theory that, essentially, these worm grunters sound an awful lot like burrowing, worm-hungry moles.

ABOVE: Sopchoppy Worm Grunting Festival

Of course, Darwin also reminds in a charming quotation about the large debt we owe to worms: "It may be doubted whether there are any other animals which have played so important a part in the history of the world as have these lowly, organized creatures." Of course, I do wonder if a white lab rat would second that or not....

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