Charles Darwin, earthworms | Charles Darwin's Theory of Evolution by natural selection

Charles Darwin, earthworms

The Importance of Earthworms: Darwin's Last Manuscript

L. Sambourne's satiric portrait of Darwin published in Punch, 1881.Charles Darwin died 130 years ago today, leaving an intellectual legacy which has profoundly influenced the general course of Western thought. He is best known for his work On the Origin of Species (1859) and (1871), both of which introduced radical new ideas for the time concerning the origins of humans and all life. Darwin's last work, however, devoted itself entirely to a more down-to-earth species: the lowly earthworm.

In his final book, (1881)L. Sambourne's satiric portrait of Darwin published in Punch, 1881., Darwin concluded, "It may be doubted if there are any other animals which have played such an important part in the history of the world as these lowly organized creatures." If the concept of evolution didn’t give Darwin enough grief from his contemporaries, this monograph on worms provoked even more ridicule. But Darwin had the last laugh: The book was a runaway best-seller. Although its title would never fly with today's publishers, the book nevertheless sold more copies than his earlier books, due largely to England's healthy obsession with gardening.

The Tower of Babel? No, one of the more elegant illustrations of worm poop (or castings) published by DarwinWith the help of his children, with whom he set out early each morning (and often on rainy nights) while the ground was still cool and moist, Darwin observed and recorded the habits of the earthworm and its effect on soil formation. Darwin learned that worms literally move the earth in the process of their meanderings. Their passage through the earth aerates the soil and the natural chemistry of their guts renders soil and plant matter into fertile pellets. As a by-product of their movements, worms deposit new soil on the surface, causing whatever was on top to slowly submerge. Thus, whole monuments may be buried over a period of decades. It is estimated that for a single acre of cultivated land, earthworms move 8 tons of earth in a year, enough to produce a new layer of earth 2 inches thick, rich in nitrogen, phosphorous and calcium.

Before the plough, the earthworm was the earth’s best tiller, as it digested earth and munched on leaves, leaving behind a rich hummus layer. Vermiculture enthusiasts will agree that worm juice (or "compost tea") collected beneath their compost bins is a superior organic fertilizing agent for their gardens.

See also:

Nova Science Pub Inc Vermiculture Revolution: The Technological Revival of Charles Darwin's Unheralded Soldiers of Mankind (Environmental Science, Engineering and ... in Agriculture, Industry Nd Medicine)
Book (Nova Science Pub Inc)

Neat book about worms (yes, worms)

by bockman

Just a brief recommendation, I'm thoroughly enjoying:
The Earth Moved: On the Remarkable Achievements of Earthworms by Amy Stewart. She references a book by Darwin on earth worms-- I sure didn't know Darwin devoted an entire book on the subject of worms, but here it is (in public domain now):
The Formation of Vegetable Mould Through the Action of Worms ('vegetable mould' is what the old timers used to call 'soil' by the way) by Charles Darwin

The theory of evolution was popularized

by just-ask-me

By Charles Darwin. When he was on the Galápagos Islands in the Pacific, Darwin was strongly impressed by the different species of finches on the different islands, which, he deduced, must all have descended from just one ancestral species.
Partly because of this observation, he promoted the theory that all living things come from one original, simple form. The driving force behind the evolution of higher creatures from lower, he asserted, was natural selection, the survival of the fittest. Thanks to evolution, he claimed, land animals developed from fish, birds from reptiles, and so forth

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Bookworm Publishing Company Darwin on Earthworms: The Formation of Vegetable Mould through the Action of Worms with Observations on their Habits by Charles Darwin
Book (Bookworm Publishing Company)
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