Sunday, August 16, 2015

#89 Earthworms

Did you ever stop to think that we might not be around if not for worms? At least we would not be as healthy as we are.


“In 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.’” [1]


“They are the main contributors to enriching and improving soil for plants, animals and even humans. Earthworms create tunnels in the soil by burrowing, which aerates the soil to allow air, water and nutrients to reach deep within the soil. Earthworms eat the soil which has organic matter such as decaying vegetation or leaves. Plants cannot use this organic matter directly.  After organic matter is digested, the earthworm releases waste from their bodies called castings. Castings contain many nutrients that the plant can use. Some people even use earthworm castings as garden fertilizer.” [2]

I’m sure you have at least a passing encounter with worms. Maybe you dissected one in middle school biology class or you went catching nightcrawlers for fishing.


Earthworms range in size from one millimeter to over six feet long in Australia. [3] The world record is 22 feet long from South Africa. Most worms live in the upper one meter of the earth, but have been known to exist as deep as five meters (16.5 feet). [4]


It is estimated that there are between 250,000 and 1,750,000 worms per acre (i.e. between 62 to 432 per square meter). The mass of all the worms actually outweighs the animal life on the surface. [5]

This amazing creature makes it very hard to believe in Evolution. Clearly they benefit insects, birds, amphibians, plants, and humans, but what good are they for their own benefit? What explains why Natural Selection or survival of the fittest would choose worms to prosper and not die out?

If a bird eats a worm, the bird survives, but not the worm. Clearly the bird is the fittest to survive. If the worm eats dirt and dead leaves and poops a nice nitrogen fertilizer for plants, that’s good for the plants, but what does the worm get out of it?

Wikipedia states "earthworm casts are five times richer in available nitrogen, seven times richer in available phosphates, and 11 times richer in available potassium than the surrounding upper 6 inches (150 mm) of soil. In conditions where humus is plentiful, the weight of casts produced may be greater than 4.5 kg (10 lb) per worm per year." [6] Wow!


Worms also use chemicals for digestion called drilodefensins.

“Without the drilodefensins, the fallen leaves would stay on the ground for a long period, building up and becoming a thick layer, which would make the countryside unrecognizable and disrupt the entire carbon cycling system, said researchers.” [7]


There are 6,000 to 7,000 different species of worms. Remember now that the definition of a species is that members of the species can successfully inter-breed. So if two worms are from a different species of worms, they cannot inter-breed. Unless there is breeding, there is no Evolution. So each worm has to find another one of its own species before it can breed. It would seem pretty hard to find a mate if you are living and burrowing underground most of the time.

Worms have no eyes, another problem in finding themselves a mate. But they don’t need eyes if they are in a dark hole anyway. Luckily for worms, they are hermaphrodites. This means they have both male and female genitals. But they can’t fertilize themselves, so they must encounter another worm of the same species.


“Special ventral setae are used to anchor mating earthworms by their penetration into the bodies of their mates.” [8]

When two worms meet and copulate, both worms get "pregnant" and each produces an egg cocoon which will contain between one and 20 eggs. [9] The babies when they hatch look just like the parents but very tiny and will grow to full size in about 12 months.

Let’s think for a minute about the problem that Evolution would have trying to explain hermaphrodites. What came just before the first worm? Was there an original worm with both genders within itself? Then we would have to explain how the male and female parts differentiated into separate organs in separate locations on the worm. Did it suddenly mutate both male and female parts in the same generation? That’s extremely unlikely. Remember that Evolution is slow and gradual. But if the female part develops first without the male part, no fertilization or reproduction can take place.

Even if you suddenly had one worm that mutated with both male and female genitals, you’d still need a second one to fertilize it. Maybe we could imagine that two worms from the same cocoon both had the mutation. But they have to grow up for months before they can mate and then they have to find each other to do it. But instant genitals which are male and female couldn't be called evolution, slow and gradual.

Worms are all over the world. They are mostly all the same, so they had to have originated with one “Adam/Eve worm” whose descendants have spread all over the world. Where are all the precursors of this first ancestor worm if it really did evolve? (See my Proof for God #64 Missing Links) They must have all died out because there is no evidence of them. If any intermediary worm type beings before the first ancestor worm existed and they had descendants, then all those descendants died out without a trace.

If we theorize that in the beginning there were male worms and female worms, we need to inquire how they originated by mutation and evolved separately. Did the male worm evolve one day from an egg of some non-worm animal? That doesn’t work if there is no female nearby. He would die without reproducing. Male and female would have had to evolve simultaneously and within the same dirt pile, within a few feet from each other.


Hermaphrodite reproduction by worms is very, very interesting and complicated. Slow and gradual evolution is impossible to explain it. After mating, a worm makes a slime tube and fills it with fluid. It then crawls out of the slime tube depositing eggs and sperm into the tube as it passes by. The tube then becomes an egg cocoon. Baby worms emerge in two to four weeks.

“The earthworm will move forward out of the slime tube. As the earthworm passes through the slime tube, the tube will pass over the female pore picking up eggs. The tube will continue to move down the earthworm and pass over the male pore called the spermatheca which has the stored sperm called the spermatozoa. The eggs will fertilize and the slime tube will close off as the worm moves completely out of the tube. The slime tube will form an “egg cocoon” and be put into the soil.” [10]


Let’s turn to other thoughts about the “first worm”. Could it have evolved under the ground where they live now? That’s not likely. It must have developed from an above ground animal.

If the “first worm” mutated into existence above ground, what would lead it to start eating dirt? The whole system front to back has to be in place before it can eat dirt. The mouth has to be there along with the stomach, the circulatory system, even the excretory system.

Also, the earthworm has special adaptations so that it can live underground. It either slithers through soft dirt and dead leaves, pushing with a force ten times its body weight, or else it eats its way through hard ground. But how did it evolve the ability to move its various segments in order to slither. That takes major coordination so a brain and nerves are necessary. A worm also has tiny hairs sticking out of its sides that help hold one part in place while another part creeps forward. How does mutation explain the existence of tiny hairs all over a worm’s body?

“The earthworm is made of about 100-150 segments. The segmented body parts provide important structural functions. Segmentation can help the earthworm move. Each segment or section has muscles and bristles called setae. The bristles or setae help anchor and control the worm when moving through soil. The bristles hold a section of the worm firmly into the ground while the other part of the body protrudes forward. The earthworm uses segments to either contract or relax independently to cause the body to lengthen in one area or contract in other areas. Segmentation helps the worm to be flexible and strong in its movement.” [11]

Circumferential and longitudinal muscles on the periphery of each segment enable the worm to move. Similar sets of muscles line the gut, and their actions move the digesting food toward the worm's anus. [12]


It’s a fact that the excrement from worms is a fertilizer for plants. How could that be a random mutation that gets selected by survival of the fittest? The worm has a highly developed digestive system that creates usable nitrogen and other elements for the plants. It even uses tiny grains of sand to help grind up the dirt. That would take hundreds, if not thousands, of mutations of a worm’s DNA to produce.

“Food enters the mouth. The pharynx acts as a suction pump; its muscular walls draw in food. In the pharynx, the pharyngeal glands secrete mucus. Food moves into the esophagus, where calcium (from the blood and ingested from previous meals) is pumped in to maintain proper blood calcium levels in the blood and food pH. From there the food passes into the crop and gizzard. In the gizzard, strong muscular contractions grind the food with the help of mineral particles ingested along with the food. Once through the gizzard, food continues through the intestine for digestion. The intestine secretes pepsin to digest proteins, amylase to digest polysaccharides, cellulase to digest cellulose, and lipase to digest fats. Instead of being coiled like a mammalian intestine, an earthworm's intestine increases surface area to increase nutrient absorption by having many folds running along its length. The intestine has its own pair of muscle layers like the body, but in reverse order—an inner circular layer within an outer longitudinal layer.” [13]

Scientists believe that worms have a sense of touch and taste. That takes an amazing nervous system.

Worms have blood and a circulatory system. How could that evolve and what keeps the blood moving?

“The aortic arches function like a human heart. There are five pairs of aortic arches, which have the responsibility of pumping blood into the dorsal and ventral blood vessels. The dorsal blood vessels are responsible for carrying blood to the front of the earthworm’s body. The ventral blood vessels are responsible for carrying blood to the back of the earthworm’s body.” [14]


Earthworms are very unique creatures. They are amazingly adapted to do what they do, burrowing through dirt and leaving fertilizer, air and water passages for plant growth behind them. They have a brain, digestive and excretory system, nervous system, movement ability, reproductive system, touch and light sensitivity. All this is proof of design and purpose.

There must be God.  

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[1] Wikipedia, “Earthworm”, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earthworm

[2] University of Pennsylvania, “Earthworms”, http://www.sas.upenn.edu/~rlenet/Earthworms.html

[3] University of Michigan, BioKids, "Oligochaeta",  http://www.biokids.umich.edu/critters/Oligochaeta/

[4] University of Michigan, BioKids, "Oligochaeta",  http://www.biokids.umich.edu/critters/Oligochaeta/

[5] Wikipedia, “Earthworm”, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earthworm

[6] Wikipedia, “Earthworm”, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earthworm

[7] Anicettion, David, "Secret of Earthworms Eating Leaves Discovered", TimesGazette, Aug. 5, 2015, http://www.thetimesgazette.com/secret-of-earthwormss-eating-leaves-discovered/5986/

[8] Wikipedia, “Earthworm”, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earthworm

[9] Biology Junction, "We Love Worms", http://www.biologyjunction.com/earthworm%20facts.htm#hatch

[10] University of Pennsylvania, “Earthworms”, http://www.sas.upenn.edu/~rlenet/Earthworms.html

[11] University of Pennsylvania, “Earthworms”, http://www.sas.upenn.edu/~rlenet/Earthworms.html

[12] Wikipedia, “Earthworm”, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earthworm

[13] Wikipedia, “Earthworm”, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earthworm

[14] University of Pennsylvania, “Earthworms”, http://www.sas.upenn.edu/~rlenet/Earthworms.html


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