MadSci Network: Zoology

Re: If we cut an earth-worm into 2 parts does he continue to live or not ?

Date: Wed Dec 22 08:46:10 1999
Posted By: June M. Wingert , RM(NRM), Research Associate, Comparative Pathology Department, Baylor College of Medicine
Area of science: Zoology
ID: 945635018.Zo

Hi Bernardin,

When a Robin tries to pull an earthworm out of the ground, the worm uses 
these bristles to hold on tight to the wall of its home. Sometimes the worm 
holds on so tight and the Robin pulls so hard that the worm comes apart. 
The Robin keeps the front end and the hind end wriggles back into its 
burrow. If a bird pulls off the first 7 or 8 rings of the worm's body, new 
segments will grow. If a worm is pulled in half only the head end will grow 
Here is some more interesting information about earthworms.
The earthworm has no lungs and takes in oxygen through its moist skin - it 
is a skin breather. If it dries out it will suffocate. Its skin is covered 
by mucus-secreting cells. The mucus serves not only in respiratory 
exchange, but it also lubricates the worm's body and eases passage through 
the burrow.
The mucus covered skin helps bind soil particles together and prevents the 
walls of the burrow from collapsing.

Dr. Cathy Fox has a great site that contains not only Technical Questions, 
but also, general information and everything "you wanted to know about 

If you would rather read a book on earthworms check out the following

Earthworms, Dorothy Childs Hogner, 1953, Thomas Y. Crowell, New York 

Earthworms, John Mertus, 1993

Living Invertebrates, Editors Pearse and Buchsbaum, 1986, Boxwood Press, 
Pacific Grove, Ca. 
Hope this answers your question on earthworms.

June Wingert Mad Scientist

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