Dom Post: How Darwin opened a can of worms in New Zealand’s soil

Bob Brockie writes in the Dominion Post about Darwin’s discovery that earthworms are able, through their activity, to bury not just stones, but entire cities.

New Zealand, it turns out, has particularly high earthworm densities, and some of our native earthworms grow to nearly a metre long.

An excerpt: (read in full here)

“Earthworms completely buried a flagstone pathway across his lawn as they did other stones Darwin watched for many years. He calculated the number and weight of worms per acre in English and French soils and measured the depth to which the worms buried the stones. He also measured how deeply worms had buried tile floors, pediments and walls of old Roman villas, abbey ruins, arrowheads, weapons from medieval battlefields and old coins in Britain and elsewhere and checked the sinking slabs at Stonehenge.

“On reading Darwin’s book, an Auckland sceptic, Mr Urquhart, questioned his claims and set about repeating his experiments. He was astonished to find nearly four times as many earthworms in New Zealand soil than in any English soils and that they buried things much faster here than in Britain.”