(5 May 2017) Our local giant earthworms shine in the dark. At a recent presentation about local wildlife, someone told me that he found a giant earthworm, which lit up when touched. Giant earthworms can produce light, but literature does not show that this also applies to our local resident earthworm Digaster Longmani (which is named after former Queensland Museum director Albert Longman).
So, either we have discovered a new feature of our local worms, or another species of giant earthworm also lives on – or better: in – Tamborine Mountain. If so, then Digaster Keasti (named after Qld Prof. James Keast), is the candidate, but it is known only to live North of Brisbane and Toowoomba.
Giant earthworms always hide, until it rains when they surface to the roads, pavements and laws because their underground tunnels get flooded. The up to one meter long creatures have five hearts, breathe through their skin and are hermaphrodite: each single individual possesses both eggs and sperm. The thickened band around the body (to the left in the photo), known as the ‘clitellum’, produces the eggs.
It is not known when and why earthworms glow. It is unlikely that it is a defense mechanism, more probable is that it plays a role in mating. On the other hand, many earthworms still have all ‘chemicals to glow’ but don’t use those to produce light. So, it also might be a feature that is in the process of disappearing in evolutionary terms.
Anyway, if you have any photo of local earthworms, or have ever experienced a shining specimen, then please inform “Green Island in the Sky”.
Nothing to say: straightforward photo on full automatic.