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Hello there seventh graders! My name is Eddie, and I am an earthworm. I am here today to help you learn a little about me and some of my friends. Follow along here with me as I tell you a story about myself
The story starts back home in Horseheads, NY. Where me and my brothers and sisters grew up. As I already mentioned, my first name is Eddie. My last name is Annelid . I know it sounds like a funny last name, but I got it because I am in the Animal Phylum Annelida. What you need to know about Annelids is that we are ringed or segmented, as you can see below.
All worms are in the Kingdom Animalia- just like humans, but worms are broken into three Phylum's. Remember- Worms are invertebrates- but not all worms are the same. I had never met any other phylum's of worms before in my life before this adventure began- but I am getting ahead of myself, you’ll hear more about the other phylum's as my story continues. WORMS Flatworms (Platyhelminthes) Roundworms (Nematodes) Segmented worms (Annelid)
When I was a kid I used to wiggle and play with my friends and siblings outside all night long. I know what you might be thinking… your parents probably don’t let you run and play outside all night long- but for worms, its different.
Night is a safe time for an earthworm to play outside. At night, most of the animals that want to eat me are asleep. Also the air is damp and cool at night- this helps keep my skin moist. This is important because if I dry out then I will die!!! This is because as a worm, I obtain oxygen through moisture on my skin.
Anyways! One night I was out playing hide and seek with my friends and I ran into some trouble.
The night seemed normal at first. I was wiggling around, looking for a good place to hide in the ground. I had a lot of options available, because most Annelids, which are segmented worms, live in burrows or tubes. But be aware that there are lots of segmented worms out in the world, and some even live in the water! If you want to learn more about me, check out page 331 in your book!
I found the perfect spot, right behind a big rock! I had never been in the area I was in before, and it looked like a big container filled with human food. Even though I was alone it looked like lots of other earthworms had been there before me.
I was happy here, because I was hungry too… Some Annelids are scavengers like me, and eat by searching for food… even though others are what’s called a parasite. Parasites latch on to other- larger animals and use them to obtain food for them. Many worms act as parasites
As I was trying to figure out where I was, I took a peek outside and saw a sign that said “Compost” above me. Then I remembered something that I had learned in science class last year at the Annelid School of Science and Technology.
Earthworms are among the most helpful animals living in gardens and farm soil! They benefit people by helping the plants grow. Earthworm droppings make soil more fertile. They also tunnel around loosening the soil allowing air, water, and plant roots to move through more easily. Many people even have compost bins at their house, where they throw extra food scraps. If your more interested in composting for your garden at home, just search the topic online sometime, there is lots of information out there
As I patiently waited for any sign that someone was going to find me in this hiding spot, I munched away on some composted asparagus and Brussel sprouts… that stuff is great! I don’t know why anyone would throw that stuff out?!
After about ten minutes I started to hear a sound, but it didn’t sound like a worm?
The earth began to shake and I was convinced that an earthquake was starting!
I looked for the closest doorway to stand under, but then remembered that there aren’t any doors underground.
Then in an instant, a bright light shined in from above that paralyzed me. Was I dead? Maybe something crashed down on me so fast that never even felt it?
Now since I am a worm, I don’t have eyes, so I couldn’t really “see” anything. But I do have things that look like eyes in my head, along with lots of other sense organs. I also have a BRAIN! I know that I am excited about that small fact that so many of you humans take for granted, but I am the simplest organism with a brain, remember… Sponges and Cnidarians both don’t have brains. So with a brain and sensory organs there is no way I wouldn’t have seen danger coming!
What it turns out happened is that I got scooped up by Winston, a local boy- who has a passion for fishing, among other things. He came along looking for worms like me to use for a fishing trip he was planning to leave on the next morning.
As it turns out, I wasn’t the only one who Winston found that night. My other friends were inside Winston’s cup too wiggling around and looking for a way out.
Time passed and I felt like I was in a prison cell. It was dark, there were no windows, and I wasn’t sure what was going to happen next. To tell you the truth, it was the scariest time in my life. I even saw two of my friends Kevin and Sammy get in a fight for no reason. Kevin somehow chopped of Sammy’s tail end! Luckily for Sammy, worms have the ability to re-grow body parts, this is called REGENERATION .
Many worms can break into pieces and each piece can re-grow, or REGENERATE, into a whole new worm. Earthworms can’t do this though, but if an earthworm loses its tail, it will most likely grow a new one. Lucky for Sammy huh?.....
I knew I had to get out of this can! Time seemed to pass by slowly, I couldn’t tell days from nights, hours from minutes, or even my front side from my backside.
I was just thinking… you may not know much about earth worms, so maybe I should tell you a little about us… First off, as an Annelid, you may remember, I am made up of segments. I kind of look like a vacuum cleaner hose ( a series of rings, separated by grooves) As an earthworm I usually have at least 100 segments.
I also have organs. Some organs are in every segment and some are in specialized segments. My digestive and nervous system runs throughout my body, but my reproductive system stays in certain specialized segments.
I also have a one way digestive system. This is like humans. Food goes in on one end and comes out the other. All of the Annelids (segmented worms) have this, and so do Nematodes ( or round worms)- one of the other phylum’s of worms. So my digestive system has 2 openings… one in the front, and one in the back.
Annelids (as well as ALL WORMS ) can reproduces Asexually , as you heard about with Sammy… and Sexually , as many other animals do. Some worms are Hermaphrodites. This means that they have both male and female parts. Others species of worms have separate male and female worms, like humans. Typically a worm with both male and female parts will not mate with itself though.
I also have stiff bristles stick out from all of my segments. I stick these into the ground and they help me pull myself along.
Also, in case you are wondering- Earthworms are not the only type of Annelid. Leeches are another example! Leeches are the blood sucking parasites that you see above.
Lastly, Annelids have a closed circulatory system. This means that blood moves through a connected network of tubes called blood vessels, as apposed to it just sloshing around like in an insect. The advantage of this is that blood can move around the body more quickly.
As it turns out, my worst fear had come true. After an extended stay in a tin can, I was snatched out and placed on a hook as bait for a fish.
I was attached to a hook. Swung backwards… then forewords, and cast out into the water. I closed my eyes, took a deep breathe, and hoped for the best.
After the splash and mayhem of being hoisted into the water from a boat, things started to get quiet and I opened my eyes to see what where I was. The view was amazing at there were plants and animals everywhere I looked. Besides the hook in my side, I was pretty impressed.
I saw a anemone… and a sponge… two of the simple invertebrates that I had just learned about in school. I was a lot different than them. I had Bilateral symmetry, was organized at the organ level, and I even had a brain!
Just as I was getting comfortable…. YANK!... I was pulled in a different direction by the hook in my side. I guess Willie decided he wanted to make me squirm a little bit more. I hadn’t felt so dizzy since I went to the amusement park when I was a kid.
Now alone, secluded from the many animals I was just surrounded by, I saw thousands of plants in every direction. I wondered what makes me different than those plants??? I know that as an animal- I am multicellular, eukaryotic, and heterotrophic Oh That's it… Plants make their own food, which makes them Autotrophic… plants also have cell walls
INSTANTLY… before I could think about the other 4 kingdoms that exist… A fish came along and in one HUGE GULP, scooped me into its mouth.
Willies plan had worked, and now I was going to die inside this fish while Willie reeled him in for dinner.
The struggle began, and this monster Vertebrate animal tossed right, and then left, and then back right- over and over again, trying to get free. From inside I could feel the struggle to get free of Willies hook…
Then all of the sudden, out of no where… the crashing and banging stopped. I could feel the fish was still alive, but I was unsure if she had gotten free, or if she was on the boat, being held captive just as I had been prior to taking a swim.
I could hear the ocean, and feel a calmness beating through the body of the fish. On the outside I heard a whale make its call, and I was glad that the fish made it.
Quickly this happiness soon turned to worry. Now I was in a fish, far, far, FAR away from home, and I had no idea what to do about it.
I yelled out in desperation, “Somebody Help me PLEEEEASE!”
Then out of no where, came a soft voice. “ Who’s THAT!?” asked the unfamiliar tone, with a southern accent. “ Hey Penny, I think we got another something inside this here fish,” continued the voice.
Well Hey there!!! This is Harry the Hookworm and Penny the Planaria. We’ve been stuck here in the fish for the last three days.
A sigh of relief came over Eddie. He wasn’t alone.
“ A hook worm and a planaria? What are you two doing here?” asked Eddie. “ Well we fell out of a ship back a few days ago on accident, and little did we know it, stumbled right into this fish when we hit the water. We have been trying to find a way out ever since,” said Penny.
“ Boy!... I sure am glad I’m not all alone here. I have heard of hookworms and planaria before but I have never met any.” replied Eddie. “ well good to meet you son, glad we have another brain in here to help us find a way out” replied Harry.
Then Harry the hookworm explained a little bit about himself and other NEMATODES . -Hookworms are in the Phylum Nematoda -Along with whip worms, pin worm, guinea worms, and many more. - We are more commonly called Round worms because all of us are round in shape. We are EVERYWHERE. We may even be the most abundant animal on earth. - We have a one way digestive system just like you Annelids and some of us scavenge for food, eating meat or plants, but most of us are parasites. I know these may look like eyes, but just like all worms I don’t have any eyes.
Penny the planaria then went on to talk about herself. I am in the Phylum Plathelminthes … that’s a mouthful. But more commonly we are known as Flatworms . Because our common characteristic is that we are flat in shape. Another common example of flatworms are tapeworms. Most flatworms are parasites and usually are found living in another animal. This animal is called a host. Some flatworms are free living and live in ponds, damp soil, and oceans. Like me the planaria.
Planaria are a special flatworm. We are not parasites. We are free living flatworms. I roam the world on my own. You might wonder then how I eat? Well I’ll tell you. I have a feeding tube I insert into food. Then I push digestive juices into whatever it is I am eating to break it down and suck up whatever parts I can get it into my body to digest it. Pretty gross huh? I usually feed on dead and decaying material and I am strictly carnivorous. I just scavenge around getting whatever I can get.
WOW! That is a lot of information. Good thing it is all in my book as well as online so that if I ever need it again I can look it up! Anything else I should know?
“ You know Eddie, the three of us are a lot alike,” replied Penny. Since we’re all worms we share some common characteristics.
Long narrow bodies without legs.
Tissues, organs, and organ systems
Have head and tail ends
ALL WORMs are….
OK, OK, OK !!!! PENNY that’s enough! YOU CAN TELL ME MORE WHEN WE GET OUT OF THIS FISH! If I hear much more about worms I might throw up!
Just then, an idea popped into eddies head… That’s it! Eddie remembered last month when he had the flu how it felt like something was tickling his stomach and he kept barfing it up. I bet we can make the fish send us out the same way we came in?!?
The three worms tickled and tickled the throat of the fish trying to get it to send them out.
Then all of the sudden, out of no where, the three started moving . “ It’s Working,” yelled Eddie! “ Keep it up!!!” And the three of them were swept out into the ocean in a bubble floating to the surface.
Their bubble hit the surface and when it popped… luckily they were right beside the rescue ship Eddies family had sent out looking for him..