Pharyngula

Lair of the White Worm

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I never heard of this before: there exists a rare, giant, albino earthworm in the scrub prairies of the Palouse. It grows to be 3 feet long, and smells like lilies.

I scarcely believed it myself—that’s also Sasquatch country out there, you know—so I had to look it up. The Giant Palouse Earthworm (Driloleirus americanus) is real. They’re so rare, though, that one hasn’t been spotted in almost 20 years…until last year. A new specimen was found, and unfortunately, fixed in formaldehyde right away. I thought this quote was a little sad.

Unlike the celebration touched off by last year’s sighting in Arkansas of the ivory-billed woodpecker—a bird not seen in 60 years and thought to be extinct—the giant earthworm Sanchez-de Leon found last year already has been consigned to a jar of formaldehyde.

“Realistically, the giant Palouse earthworm is a lot less charismatic than a giant woodpecker,” said James “Ding” Johnson, head of the University of Idaho’s Department of Plant, Soil and Entomology Sciences.

My apologies to GrrlScientist, but I’d much rather see a giant white worm than some boring old bird.