10 New Specices of Semi-Aquatic Earthworms Discovered in Thailand

Posted on February 6, 2013

Glyphidrilus Earthworms With Wings

Researchers have discovered 10 new species of semi-aquatic freshwater earthworms in Thailand. The species belong to the genus Glyphidrilus. Each species is endemic to an individual water basin. The worms orient themselves vertically in the wet soil along the the banks of the water.

The earthworm above has an expanded part of its epidermis that has been dubbed "wings." The function of the wings is currently unknown to science, but could potentially have something to do with breathing in aquatic habitats. The researchers say the worms may play a beneficial role in organic rice farming.

Dr. Somsak Panha, the author of the study from Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand, said in a statement, "The worms will survive in areas using chemical fertilizers but not those using chemical pesticides. However, the worms did well in areas of organic farming and so are likely to be sensitive to modern agrochemical contamination of the environment. They may play an important role in organic rice farming."

The research paper was published here in ZooKeys.

Photo: Somsak Panha

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