A friend pinged me on a share of an article about an exciting scientific find. I found his comment under many, many other comments with jokey gifs. Because the movie trope was what came to most people’s minds when they saw a headline about a giant worm with snapping jaws. Not having ever seen the movie, only the gifs and memes, I ignored those and clicked through to read the article. I won’t make a snarky comment about the likelihood of the other commenters having actually read the article about the marine worms, related distantly to the bobbit worms, because… because. However, the giant fossilized worm is known only by it’s jaws, which are a whopping centimeter in length. Scientists deduce from this relatively large size in comparison to their living relatives, which posses jaws of at most a few millimeters, that their bodies were over a meter long. For the American non-scientists among us, there are 2.54 centimeters in an inch. The length of my thumb from joint to tip is an inch. Unless there were a lot of these worms, the human is not in any danger from them.
Giant worms do still exist – there are enormous earthworms found in the land down under (because of course there are. Australia, for your biodiversity alone I could love you) – but it’s the little ‘uns I’m more interested in. Humans are outumbered – and possibly even outweighed – by worms on the surface of this mudball we call home. Nematodes are everywhere, in some places in such great abundance that a 100 g (that’s a mere 3.5 oz, roughly a half cup) scoop of soil could net you tens of thousands of the near-microscopic worms. I remember vividly the example my invertebrate zoology professor gave us – that if you could see only the nematodes on earth, every land mass, every hill, every mountain range, would be perfectly mapped in ghostly outlines of tiny worms.
Consider the worm, because for sure he’s considering you.