Take one look of these Australian earthworms and you'll know exactly why our ancestors felt the need to invent fire. What are the longest worms in the world? That would be the giant Gippsland earthworm - a very thick worms and one of the largest worm species in the world. Even though they may look terrifying, they are perfectly harmless. You don't have to worry about running into them either, as they only live in one very specific location.
These extremely long worms are as curious as they are rare, but there are several factors threatening the long term survival of these massive, gross worms. It's good that the Internet has discovered them, because awareness and active conservation efforts are the only way that these creepy-crawlies will live to keep grossing us out in the future.
The Europeans That Discovered It Thought It Was A Snake
These subterranean colossuses were unknown to the majority of the world until a group of railway workers accidentally dug one out sometime during the early 1800s. The men were so puzzled by the creature - which they thought to be some sort of bizarre snake - they took it to the University of Melbourne in hopes the professors there could shed some light on their discovery. They must have been shocked to learn that they had inadvertantly discovered a new species of giant earthworm.
The Largest Specimens Can Grow To 10 Feet In Length
Different specimens of the giant Gippsland earthworm can vary greatly in size, but all of them are impressively large. The biggest ones on record measure out to about 10 feet in length, a massive achievement for a lowly worm. They're not only long, but thick as well. Some worms have been recorded as being an inch in diameter.
You Could Live Right On Top Of Them And Never Know It
The giant Gippsland earthworm can only be found in one particular area of Australia, in a place known as Gippsland. They have a remarkably small and are mostly found living beneath private ranches and farms. Even the people of Gippsland are unlikely to bump into one of these worms, as they can burrow five feet underground and only come to the surface if their tunnels are flooded by heavy rain.
Worm Sex Is Very Complicated
The giant Gippsland earthworm is a hermaphroditic species, meaning each worm has both male and female sex organs. During mating, both worms pass of their own sperm to their partners. This can be difficult for the Gippsland earthworm, as their large bodies make it difficult to copulate in their underground tunnels. Scientists believe these flexible worms stretch themselves out in order to fit two of them together in the same tunnel.
Baby worms are born from eggs and can take 12 months to emerge. When they do, they are already impressively long. Newborns can measure out to be around a foot long at birth.