Rarely do human beings think about worms. Yes, they may spot one in their garden, but a minute later, their minds will have probably moved on to other things. However, worms play a crucial role in our ecosystem. According to Charles Darwin, worms are the most important creatures on earth. Whether he was right or not remains debatable. Here are some amazing facts about worms to jog your memory.

1. Ice Worms Melt at a Temperature of 5 °C

There is a special breed of worms that live in glaciers. The ice worms thrive under very low temperatures to the point that they’ll melt when exposed to temperatures exceeding 5 °C. Their structural membranes disintegrate, and they start to liquefy.

2. Wax Worms Can Eat Polyethene

Polyethene, one of the most difficult materials to break down, has caused significant pollution worldwide. However, the wax worm, scientifically known as the Galleria mellonella larvae, can eat polyethene. Scientists view this as one of the best natural solutions for plastic pollution.

3. Electric Worm Getters Have Killed More than 30 People

Collecting fishing worms using electricity has been a controversial topic for many years. This is mainly because these devices killed tens of people in the 80s and 90s, leading to them being recalled. Homemade electric worm-getters are equally as risky.

4. Two Silkworms Smuggled into Byzantine Established a Massive Empire for 6 Centuries

In 550 AD, a Byzantine emperor instructed two monks to sneak silk worms from China. The two monks hid the worms inside their walking sticks, and surprisingly enough, they led to the formation of the Byzantine silk industry that served the empire’s economy for more than six centuries.

5. There is No Worm Involved in Ringworm

Did you know that ringworm is a fungal infection that doesn’t revolve around any worms? It is usually a circular rash that develops on the skin. The culprit is not a worm but a mold-like fungi that thrives in the dead tissues on your skin.

6. The Oldest Worm is 46,000 Years Old

The typical lifespan for a worm is 4 to 8 years. However, a worm retrieved from the Siberian permafrost while in a dormant state is estimated to have lived for more than 46,000 years. According to Teymuras Kurzchalia, a professor and research group leader, the worm existed during the era of mammoths.

7. Worms Can Survive for Weeks in Water

Unlike humans and most other land-based animals that drown in water, worms can live for weeks when submerged. The creatures’ special features allow them to absorb oxygen from their surroundings, thus surviving longer.

8. Seagulls Bring Worms to the Surface by Stamping the Ground

In an act known as dancing, seagulls rapidly stamp their feet on the ground to imitate rain, which causes worms to rise to the surface.

9. Pin Worms Affect More than a Billion People in the World

Pinworms are one of the most common infections in the world, affecting more than a billion people. Mainly characterized by causing itchy behinds, pinworm infections affect people of all ages. Fortunately, they hardly cause serious health problems.

10. Intestinal Worms Come with Some Benefits

Even though intestinal worms can cause a wide range of infections, they have their fair share of benefits. For instance, tapeworms are known to boost the immunity of their host. Other intestinal worms can help minimize allergies and treat multiple sclerosis.

11. Flatworms Can Regrow Their Heads

Scientifically known as the Planarians, flatworms can regrow their heads when cut off. Surprisingly, the new heads regrow brains with old memories and habits of the worm. However, once a flatworm regenerates, it loses its ability to lay eggs. Instead, it splits itself apart whenever it wants to produce an offspring.

12. Bill Gates Invented a Worm Powered Toilet

Bill Gates has invented a worm-powered toilet that only costs $350. It is a conventional toilet filled with tiger worms that eat human waste and get rid of bacteria, leaving only water and carbon dioxide that are safe to discharge into the soil.

13. Hookworms Helped Create the Stereotype that South Americans are Lazy

A massive hookworm infection in the South created the stereotype that Southerners were lazy and dull. However, it turns out that the said characteristics were symptoms of hookworm infection, affecting most of the population. According to historical evidence, hookworms ravaged the South during the early 1900s, primarily due to poor sanitation. By 1905, a renowned parasitologist, Dr Charles Stiles, discovered that more than 40% of the southern population were infected with hookworms.

14. Baby Kangaroos Look Like Worms

Newborn kangaroos tend to have a very different body shape. Instead of looking like tiny kangaroos, they resemble red worms with small arms. The gestation period for a kangaroo is 30 days. Therefore, the newborns don’t fully develop in the mother’s womb.

15. There are Zombie Worms that Feed on Whale Bones

Osedax, popularly known as zombie worms, was discovered in 2002 by a group of scientists in Monterey Bay, California, while devouring the skeleton of a whale. Besides whales, these worms also feed on the bones of other types of marine life as long as they are in the sea. Male zombie worms are often tiny compared to the females.

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Animals & Plants, Science,

Last Update: February 15, 2024