You read it first in this week’s The Factory in Guide magazine.

Aortic anomaly  Earthworms can have as many as ten hearts. –

You read it first in this week’s The Factory in Guide magazine.

Earthworms or nightcrawlers, not everybody’s favorite creation. But they aren’t bad either, as creatures go. It’s kind of neat to see lots of them come up out of the ground after a good rain. I know a girl who used to enjoy having worm races. She would line two worms up side by side and see which could get across the finish line first. Her racing track was the porch with a piece of thread for the finish line stretched out six inches in front of the worms. There were many victorious races, after which she would let them go back to the ground.

Many of us may take these slimy, squiggly burrowing annelids (Latin for “little rings”) for granted. We know they are in the ground, we know they make great food for birds and fish and other creatures, but they do a whole lot more.  

Worms are said to be one of the farmer’s best friends in terms of keeping the soil rich. As long ago as 1881 Charles Darwin wrote: “It may be doubted whether there are many other animals which have played so important a part in the history of the world, as have these lowly organized creatures.”

As these segmented invertebrates go through the soil, they help to aerate the ground, which is a way to say they help to keep the soil healthy so other plants and things can grow better. One way they do this is by helping to break  down all the dead and rotting leaves and garden compost, thus helping to put nutrients back into the soil. 

You may have noticed the worm with its many segments. It is not uncommon for them to have from 100 – 150 muscled segments to their bodies. However, they do not have a bone structure. Their muscled segments help move them through the earth by twisty, rolly movements.

The worm’s genetic makeup is somewhat of a marvel. Depending on your definition of what a heart is, this creature may have zero, five or ten hearts! They have complex inner organs including five pairs of heart-like structures called aortic arches, which they use to pump oxygenated blood to the rest of their bodies. These aortic arches sit near their mouths and work very much like how our hearts work for our bodies. However, their arches have no chambers or valves like our hearts do. 

Some species of annelids regulate heartbeat using their muscles, while earthworms use nerve cells, much like vertebrates. Unlike us, they do not have lungs, but breathe through their skin. After an earthworm “breathes” through its skin, its aortic arches pump the oxygenated blood through its body for use using its dorsal and ventral blood vessels. The dorsal blood vessels carry the blood to the front of the worm, while the ventral blood vessels send it to the worm’s backside. 

red worms in compost – bait for fishing

Worms are pretty amazing for such little helpless creatures, and they do a huge job to help our environment! This reminds me of us when we feel helpless. God has to remind us that He will take care of us. Isaiah 41:14 says, “’Fear not, you worm Jacob, You men of Israel! I will help you,’ says the LORD And your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.”

Scripture taken from the New King James Version, Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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