Giant Palouse Earthworm Found

Last year, I proposed the question as to whether or not another Giant Palouse Earthworm would ever be found in Idaho. This has officially been confirmed as a yes. Last month, Shan Xu, an Idaho student, and Karl Umiker, a research support scientist discovered an adult and juvenile earthworms along with three earthworm cocoons by using a new high-tech worm shocking probe that was stuck in the ground and used electricity to push worms toward the surface (you probably saw a similar technique used int he remake of Godzilla).

The worms were translucent, allowing internal organs to appear and possessed pink heads and bulbous tails. The adult had a yellowish band behind the head. Some believed the giant Palouse grew to a length of 3 feet. However, the adult measure 10 to 12 inches; the juvenile was 6 to 7 inches. The adult was killed and dissected by expert Sam James from the University of Kansas to accurately identify the species; the identity was confirmed on April 16th. The juvenile remains alive at the University of Idaho, where its DNA will be used to identify new specimens.

The Palouse earthworm's first appearance in the scientific world was in an 1897 article via the American Naturalist by Frank Smith. Smith's work was based on four samples sent to him by R.W. Doane of Washington State University in Pullman. Massive agricultural development to the unique Palouse Prairie dealt these worms a near fatal blow. The last living specimens prior to the recent discovery were found in a second-growth forest near Moscow in the 1980s by a University of Idaho scientist James Johnson. Since decades went by without confirmed sightings of the earthworm, many believed the giant Palouse Earthworm was extinct. Of course, this discovery gives some hope for other extinct animals believed to still be roaming the Earth.

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