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Giant earthworms that they are able grow to be as long as three feet are responsible for strange mounds of clay found in the wetlands of Venezuela and Colombia, scientists report in the publication PLOS ONE.
The curious scenery phenomenon in question is called surales , which are mounds of clay that can be as big as 16 feet in diameter and six feet tall. When seen from above, the mounds form an organized-looking pattern.
But what generated them?
Scientists did field work, use Google Earth, and even a droning to take pictures from above to figure out the answer.
The concluded that the mounds were mostly made up of worm castings, which is the manure worms create when they excrete. The knolls begin as towers, which the worms use as part of a process of respiration in the flooded landscape.
Mounds are initiated when big earthworms feed in shallowly flooded clays, depositing castings that form towers above water level, the study explains. Using permanent galleries, each earthworm returns repeatedly to the same spot to deposit castings and to respire. Over time, the tower becomes a mound.
In fact, the scientists hypothesized that one worm species, Andiorrhinus sp, is the key player in the mound building. Those worms get to be as big as three feet long and thats before theyre adults, the scientists report.
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