How plenty of hearts walk a worm have? Well, the price to the question have the right to be a little tricky, as it relies on just how you specify “heart.” relying on the definition, worms can be claimed to have 0, 5, or 10 hearts. While they lack a classic heart as understood in humans, worms do have actually 5 bag of aortic arches that play a similar functional function to the of the person heart.

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First, a little bit on the terminology “worm” strictly speaking, “worm” is an obsolete scientific biological classification. Linnaean taxonomy classified every non-arthropod invertebrates as “Vermes”, a group we now understand to it is in polyphyletic; that is, a group consisting of organisms that are in truth not very closely related.

“We space all worms. Yet I do believe that ns am a glow-worm.” — Winston Churchill

Linnaeus’ original group of vermes was based mostly by groupings the analogous organic structures and contained some varieties of barnacles, jellyfish, snakes and also various parasites; types very unrelated to each various other phylogenetically speaking. Historically, the category of “worm” worked as a sort of wastebin taxon; a grouping that was because that leftover biology that might not clearly be sorted right into other categories. So to be more specific, us are focusing on the lumbricus Terrestris, the common earthworm.

Earthworms live anywhere the world, and in plenty of places play crucial role in the ecosystem by breaking down organic matter right into compost kind to be used by plants. There room over 1,800 species of worm considered earthworms, discovered on every continent except Antarctica. The united States, because that example, has actually over 20 various native types of earthworms, and also another 20 that have actually been presented from Europe. They are part of the taxonomic group dubbed Annelids, which contains other creatures prefer leeches and also some varieties of aquatic worms. Favor flies, they are beneficial in the laboratory together they room numerous and easily raised. They typically are made up out that 100-150 individual segment (called metamerisms) and can range from a small 10mm lengthy to a lining 3m long. The largest recognized earthworm in the civilization os the Australian Gippsland earthworm which on regular basis reaches lengths over 9 feet.


Earthworm bodies consist of one inner layer of muscle, one epidermis (skin), and an external layer of safety coating dubbed a cuticle. Despite they show up smooth and uniform, every segment apart from the mouth and also the anus room covered in tiny setae—small hairs discovered on a number of insects. ~ above the head segment, just above the mouth is a fleshy protrusion dubbed a prostomium. The prostomium closes the mouth while the worm is at rest but additionally uses that to feeling chemicals in the environment, choose a tiny antenna. Adult worms flourish a fleshy band called a clitellum across the most center segments. The clitellum produce eggs and also deposits castle in a viscous sac of fluid.

Earthworms relocate by the coordinated movement of 2 main species of muscles. The upper layer is composed of a row of one muscles the contract, to decrease the worm’s diameter however increasing that is length. The inner set of muscle is longitudinal and their contractions boost the worm’s diameter however decrease that is length. For this reason earthworm motion is composed of a sample of rhythmic contractions and elongations that gradually move it across the ground.

Strictly speaking, earthworms absence eyes. Yet, they do have a set of specialized photosensitive cells that duty analogously come eyes. Likewise, they have no ears, however instead “hear” through sensing vibrations with the ground. They execute not have any teeth and so do not bite or chew your food. Instead, choose a snake, they gradually engulf their food as muscle contractions customs the morsels with the digestive system. The digestive device of an earthworm is a single straight tube from the mouth to anus, wherein food passing with is floor up and also passed on come be spend by enzymes. Uneven humans, earthworms perform not have actually not devoted excretory openings; all waste commodities are excreted with the anus.

“If worms have actually the strength of obtaining some notion, but rude, that the form of an object, and also over their burrows, as seems the case, they deserve to be referred to as intelligent; for they plot in almost the exact same manner together would male under similar circumstances.” — Charles Darwin

Like every invertebrates, earthworms absence an internal skeleton, but they do have a relatively facility internal structure, which renders them of attention to researchers. Major is the central body cavity that the earthworm, known as the coelom, in i beg your pardon the earthworm’s assorted organ systems room situated. Earthworms have actually a nervous mechanism with 3 parts, a main nervous system, the peripheral nervous system, and a sympathetic concerned system. They also have a brain like structure composed of pairs of cerebral ganglia. Earthworms additionally show some capability to regenerate lost segments yet that capacity differs from species to species. Due to his research, the scientist G.E. Gates showed that is is feasible to prosper two different organisms indigenous bisected specimens of part earthworm species. Earthworms space hermaphroditic and contain both ovaries and also testes. When mating, a pair will connect to each various other front ends and also each exchange sperm v the other. At some point later, the earthworm will combine this sperm with the egg it has actually grown in the clitellum and also deposit these egg in a cocoon-like incubator. Earthworms likewise seem come be capable of parthenogenesis, meaning that they can grow and develop embryos without fertilization.

Earthworms have actually a single closed circulatory device that facilitates the transmission of waste, nutrients, and fluids. This circulatory device comes complete with 5 various functioning vessels to lug blood, the dorsal, ventral, subneural and two lateroneural vessels. Unlike speak a mollusk, whose blood exists en masse inside the organism’s body, earthworms channel their blood v a predefined circulatory system. The “heart” of one earthworm sits near the creature’s mouth and also exists in 5 pairs of organs recognized as aortic arches. As the name would certainly imply, the aortic arches are for this reason named because they have an arch-like appearance. The aortic arcs are situated around the coelom and your pumping activity facilitates the infection of blood, very comparable to the activity of a person heart. Think the the earthworm’s body prefer a rubber hose and the aortic arches like a person squeezing the hose. The press from contraction shunts the blood v the ship to the appropriate areas.

Earthworms lack lugs and also respirate with their skin, so they “breathe” by soaking up oxygen through their external layer the skin. Oxygen disappear on the mucus that covers an earthworm’s outer skin, so earthworms must remain moist to respirate properly. One they “breathe” the aortic arches contract and also pump oxygenated blood through the dorsal vessel. As soon as the oxygenated blood has been used, the garbage product carbon dioxide diffuses out of the worm back into the environment. This pumping action of the aortic arches. Is functionally similar to the pumping activity of a human heart. Interestingly, earthworms control the activity of your aortic arches via their nervous system, unlike other invertebrates that usage their muscles to manage respiration. This provides the task of an earthworm’s aortic arches much more analogous come the task of a human heart. Aortic arches only have actually one chamber though, so if one defines “heart” as having multiple chambers, climate an earthworm has actually 0 hearts. Alternatively, if a “heart” is just an body organ functionally comparable to a person heart, then earthworms have up to 10 hearts (or 5 pairs of hearts).

A diagram showing the inner structure of one earthworm. Source: KDS4444 via WikiCommons licensed under CC-BY-SA 4.0

Earthworms & Ecology

Earthworms beat a vital role in many ecological niches. They feeding on necessary matter and excrete a compost-like substance rich in nitrogen the plants use for nutrients. Through digesting decaying essential material, they adjust the soil composition and also introduce valuable minerals and microbes. Earthworm occupied soil has displayed to have actually up come 5 times much more available nitrogen, 7 times more phosphates, and 11 times much more potassium than surrounding patches of soil (Brady & Weil, 2009). Their burrowing activity aerates and mixes soil, which renders it conducive for the mineralization and root uptake. Researchers have compared earthworm activity to that of pistons in a pump. Just as pistons in a pump circulate air with the pump, earthworm burrowing circulates air with the pump that is the soil.

“The beforehand bird gets the worm. The early worm… it s okay eaten.” — Norman Ralph Augustine

The soil benefits the earthworms are so famous that numerous farmers take into consideration them welcome guests in their gardens and farming industries are acquainted with the green nature that earthworm activity. Provided the need for future sustainable farming techniques, earthworms might play a valuable function in future agriculture efforts. In addition, earthworms offer as the basic for countless food chains and also are fed on through birds, reptile and mammals alike. Earthworms play so many helpful ecological duties that Charles Darwin composed in 1881, “It might be doubted whether there are many other pets which have played so crucial a part in the history of the world, as have these lowly organised  creatures” (pg. 314).

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So in summation, how plenty of hearts does an earthworm have? Again, that depends; if “heart” is specifically characterized as a multi-chamber organ with valves like it is in human being beings, climate an earthworm has zero hearts. However, if “heart” is identified in a much more functional sense as an body organ that facilitates circulation with a mechanically pumping action, climate an earthworm has up come 10 individual hearts. This 10 separation, personal, instance “hearts” or aortic arcs line the main body cavity and their mechanically pumping action facilitates the circulation of the earthworm, much like a human being heart does.


Brady, N.; Weil, R. <2009>. Elements of the Nature and also Properties of Soils. (3rd edition). Prentice Hall.Darwin, Charles, R. <1881> “The development of vegetables mould, through the activity of worms, with monitorings on their habits.”
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