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Charles Darwin worms Stonehenge

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Stonehenge, Charles Darwin and Worms – What’s the connection ?

1 07 2012

Darwin’s earthworms and Stonehenge

One of Charles Darwin’s lesser known scientific contributions was the study of the humble earthworm. But could his work on this underground creature provide valuable clues about the ancient site of Stonehenge?

The earthworm plays a crucial role in improving soil fertility as it burrows beneath the ground.

Its work helps us to live in a green and pleasant land as the worms aerate the soil.

But as Darwin discovered, worms are also surprisingly good friends to archaeologists.

Stonehenge solutions

Darwin’s studies of earthworms at Stonehenge involved some of the first scientifically recorded excavations at the site.

They’re unusual because they were carried out not by an archaeologist, but by a naturalist.

Darwin was interested in the action of earthworms in burying objects.

Earthy solutions – the humble earthworm.

It’s the continual processes of burrowing, digesting and excreting the soil by earthworms that gradually leads to

objects settling down in the soil.

In some cases they become completely buried by it.

Dr Josh Pollard, one of the directors of the Stonehenge Riverside Project, has been assessing the importance of Darwin’s worm experiments at the ancient site.

Pollard thinks he’s identified a fallen stone on the outside of the circle, and one that was split in two, as the subject of Darwin’s book – “Vegetable Mould and Earthworms”.

The book features a picture of the ground which had built up around the fallen stone and describes how the stone had sunk into the soil profile:

“At Stonehenge, some of the outer Druidical stones are now prostrate, and these have become buried to a moderate depth in the ground.”

Animal diggers

Darwin discovered that earthworms are rather like archaeological JCB diggers.

They eat the earth, it goes through their muscular tube, and comes out the other end as worm casts.

This is where the earthworms interact with archaeology.

The cumulative effect of millions of worms in a field chewing their way through the soil and depositing it on the surface is that they actually raise the surface of the soil.

Darwin worked out that the soil increased in depth by 0.2 of an inch per year.

After 10 years an object in the soil will go down two inches, and after 1, 000 years it will reduce down 200 inches.

The result on the ground is that things disappear and gently sink into the soil.

To test this theory Dr Josh Pollard visited the site of one of his old excavations – the remains of a Saxon village on a farm overlooking Cheddar in Somerset.

Since his last visit a decade ago the landscape has changed – and it’s down to the efforts of the earthworms which have worked their their magic.




Cambridge University Press Charles Darwin in Australia
Book (Cambridge University Press)

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FAQ

Oli
Can you answer Charles Darwin Trivia Quiz?

Do you know the answer to any of these questions?????
1) Charles’s Wife, Emma, was a keen and accomplished pianist. From whom did she once receive piano lessons?
A) Fryderyk Chopin
B) Hector Berlioz
C) Franz Liszt

2) When Charles and Emma were first married, they lived in a house in Gower Street, London (now the site of a UCL biology building). What was their nickname for the house?
A) Maer Mansions
B) Macaw Cottage
C) The Boxrooms

3) Which of the following people was NOT left handed?
A) Erasmus Darwin (Charles's…

1. A (from Chopin in Paris)
B - Finches
's_finches
5. C - The Princess and the Goblin
A - Walter Crick
"Crick replied with not only the answers, but also the beetle and the shell. Both arrived alive, so Darwin put the "wretched" insect in a bottle with chopped ..."
10. B - Australia
"Charles Darwin: The Voyage of the Beagle: Chapter XIX: Australia. ... and he who thinks with me will never wish to walk again in so uninviting a country"
15. Joseph Parslow
" Darwin's family home. Down House…

Castigator
Why did people dislike the Charles Darwin theory?

Were humans disgusted to know that they came from monkeys. Did humans have a superiority complex that prevented from accepting Darwin's theory?
that prevented them*

When you disturb someone's world view when they are certain that their race or group is superior in some way to every other, you have the recipe for rebellion. Then you have the dummy who asks why monkeys aren't turning into people now when if you read the book, you see that it happened over a geological timespan, which os a little hard to observe, and only in cases where isolation occurred requiring speciation and preventing interbreeding.

Finally, some people just will not believe that humans were caused, not created, because they have a book written three or four…

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