The Earth Moved: On the Remarkable Achievements of Earthworms

The Earth Moved: On the Remarkable Achievements of Earthworms

by Amy Stewart


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781565124684
Publisher: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
Publication date: 03/11/2005
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 332,553
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.63(d)

About the Author

Amy Stewart is the award-winning author of six books on the perils and pleasures of the natural world. She is the cofounder of the popular blog Garden Rant and is a contributing editor at Fine Gardening magazine. She and her husband live in Eureka, California, where they own an antiquarian bookstore called Eureka Books.

Read an Excerpt

8 Bizarre Facts About Earthworms

The earthworm may be small, spineless, and blind, but its impact on the ecosystem is profound. Now, thanks to Amy Stewart, author of THE EARTH MOVED, earthworms of the world can stand a little taller.

  • Worms' ancestors date back over 250 million years. They survived two mass extinctions, including the one that killed the dinosaurs.
  • There are over 4,500 species of earth worms and many more species have not yet been identified and cataloged.
  • Worms are hermaphrodites. To mate, they line up head to tail and can stay that way for several hours.
  • If you cut a worm in half, you will not get two worms; however, the end that contains the head will usually grow a new tail.
  • Charles Darwin played the piano for worms, to see how they react to different notes. He breathed on them with various scents on his breath to see how they would react to different smells.
  • A giant earthworm in the Pacific Northwest measures two or three feet long and secretes a mucus that smells just like lilies.
  • An ordinary nightcrawler lives about five years. Giant Australian worms live over twenty years.
  • Earthworms have been used as bioindicators to identify soil pollutants. They have also been fed pollutant-degrading bacteria, which they carry far below ground in pollution clean-up projects.

    Who knew?

Customer Reviews

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The Earth Moved: On the Remarkable Achievements of Earthworms 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
B-ANNB More than 1 year ago
An amazing book on a subject I would have thought creepy. It's not. It is a fun read and extremely informative, too. Entertainment and information have seldom been so well combined.
kd-did47 More than 1 year ago
Thoroughly enjoyed this book on the natural history of these greatly unappreciated creatures. Not sure where the reader was coming from who complained about torturing animals... the author's treatment seemed respectful and interesting to me as a gardener. Final bits on creating your own worm 'farm' to harvest castings was inspiring. Well written and well researched.
carlym on LibraryThing 10 months ago
This book is all about earthworms and the work they do, which sounds sort of boring, but was actually fascinating. The author keeps a worm composting bin, and after reading this book, I really wish I had an outdoor space to keep one, too. She discusses earthworm behavior and "intelligence," the distribution of earthworms across the globe, their effects on farming and the ecosystem generally (mostly positive but occasionally problematic), and the potential for using earthworms to combat pollution (for example, in wastewater treatment). If you're interested in organic gardening or farming, this book may be of particular interest.
craigim on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Amy Stewart is not a professional oligochaetologist, but is a passionate gardener and in The Earth Moved, she distills down what little is known about earthworms into an accessible and enjoyable book. There isn't much in here about anatomy or evolution, but there is a lot about what they eat, how they eat, and what they do with and for the soil. Even though I don't have a garden, after reading this book I have been inspired to go out and get myself a worm bin to raise my own.
ireed110 on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Remember 7th grade science class, when you dissected the earthworm? Basically a tube inside a tube, right? I don't remember seeing a brain in there, or learning about one, but it turns out that earthworms possess a sort of intelligence. Darwin knew this - why didn't they tell us that in 7th grade? It might have made them that much more interesting!Amy Stewart spent a couple of years learning everything she could about earthworms, after becoming smitten with the crew in her worm bin. What she learned is that there's such a dearth of earthworm research that most of those who do study them (oligochaetologists) have to resort to a day job to support the habit. This is greatly due to the fact that there's no real good way to study them - they do not survive well outside of their habitat, and we do not survive in theirs. Since reading this book I've come to think of ground beneath me now as a whole new "ocean" of unseen and largely unexplored life - kinda cool and kinda creepy, all at the same time.This book does a good job of covering what we DO know about earthworms, and gives us an idea of what we could do with that knowledge to better our earth and our lives (the section on waste water treatment is fascinating). I learned how to keep a better garden (don't till!) and have a added a worm bin to my wishlist. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in gardening, recycling or the earth sciences. It might be a tough sell for someone who doesn't have an inclination in that direction. All in all for me, though, a worthwhile read.
dickcraig on LibraryThing 10 months ago
This book changed the way I cultivate my garden. I now let the worms keep their original holes. I liked this book a lot and have a whole new appreciation for worms.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
THis is probably the 4th book of hers that I've downloaded. Earthworms are like Honeybees; we really need them more than most of us realize. Amy Stewart keeps it flowing nicely. I like her writing style.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Writingirl More than 1 year ago
As the proud owner of a new worm farm, I wanted to learn everything I could about earthworms. But this book taught me more than what kind of worms to farm, what to feed them, and when to harvest their casing in hopes of having a yard that looks like something out of the 3D Avatar movie. Any Stewart is a thoughtful, precise writer who clearly gives much thought to her subject matter. And her perspective is big -- when you begin to think, as she does, of the whole underground world beneath your feet of worms, calmly and ploddingly burrowing through the soil, eating their way through the dirt, devouring the banana peels, lettuce leaves, and asparagus stems you feed them from your compost, you have a lesson in patience and fortitude. They just keep going. Stewart tells us that they survived the dinosaurs, the Ice Age, and will probably survive whatever comes next. While we present-day humans are busy bombing each other, eradicating natural resources, poisoning our crops and treatout our bodies to extra-large doses of stress and other immune-system destroyers, the worms go on, patiently chewing and burrowing and living in their own feces, and rewarding us with the bounty of all that by riching up our soil and enlivening our lives. Stewart's account of Darwin's late-life fascination with worms is particularly interesting and engaging. We all know about Darwin's marriage to his cousin and the genetic mahem that caused, and I have pointed this out to a friend of mine, saying, "What do you expect??? He was fascinated with earthworms in late life." "Yes," she replied, "and you have a midlife fascination with earthworms." The book is not a page-turner. There is little drama. But I learned a lot in a leisurely way from Stewart's musing, lyrical, and yet particular style.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Yet another book whose hype far outweighs its heft. But really, how exciting can a book about earthworms be? A chapter that did bring me to the edge of my seat, was one that described the search for the giant Palouse earthworm of southeastern Washington State. One hasn't been seen for twenty years and is feared to be extinct. I couldn't help thinking, 'How would they know? These things live far underground in Jimmy Hoffa territory.' The worm grows as long as three feet, and get this, to protect itself, it releases a mucus that smells like ... lilies. This Driloleirus americanus would find life easy at any graveyard with one of its functions to provide mourners with a lovely fragrance. You could almost say that visitors would be smelling the ghosts of the dead. There are hundreds of species of worms and each of them sprout the sex organs of both female and male. No wonder they are all blind. Some varieties eat table scraps, newspapers, leaves, pine needles, but never any meat or meat by-products. Some simply digest the microscopic organisms living in the soil. They have no lungs and breathe through their skins. And contrary to what I thought prior to completing this 206-paged large-fonted book, worms aren't always beneficial for all situations. In example, author Amy Stewart discovered that stowaway European worms dropped in the Minnesota forest have begun to kill new growth. This is because at night millions of worms pull into their tunnels the fallen leaves and debris that for centuries had hidden and sheltered the very young trees and shrubs from the vegetarian wildlife. Without the protection provided by the thick natural occurring debris, the ruminants consume not only all the groundcover, but all the baby trees that require decades to mature from a green-budded shoot into a young buck's rubbing post. Finally there are experiments afoot that may use millions of worms to change the sewage of our cities (of which only 5% is solid matter) into vermicompost (worm castings) that, after much sanitizing and de-stinking, can be re-used as fertilizer for growing food we eat. Anyone who delights in backyard gardening or creating first class compost will find The Earth Moved, fascinating.
Maertel More than 1 year ago
What a horrific book for anyone who cares about animals and their feelings! With an early veneer of compassion, this descends into the hells of animal experimentation for which, as usual, there is no compelling reason except for pulling the wings off butterflies.
Very, very disappointing.