With 14 Phylum and 17,000 species in one Phyla alone, the Annelida, or segmented worms, are a diverse group of semi-carnivorous critters. They can range in size from microscopic to one specimen of the bootlace worm, who was found on a British beach, and measured 180 feet in length. Try putting that on a fishing hook, but don’t! It secretes a pungent thick mucus that is a neurotoxin. Many people are familiar with the common earthworms who enjoy the benefits of being hermaphrodites, that is having both sexes. It is possible for two earthworms to impregnate each other after mating. Other species such as the California Blackworms are asexual, in that they can break into two or more distinct worms. Divorce lawyers would never take a worm on as a client. The child custody laws are a complete nightmare and the same worm is constantly dragging itself back to court. Unlike Wolfgang Mozart, who was a composer, worms are decomposers, or little chemical factories that take complex organic compounds and break them down through an ingestion process. Eat or be eaten. Fishermen enjoy using earthworms as bait, and earthworms enjoy using fishermen as brunch once he has met his demise and is buried in the local cemetery, or the ‘buffet restaurant’ as worms jokingly refer to it. Having no skeleton or exoskeleton and using hydrostatic locomotion, these segmented, slithering sleuths can turn an entombed fisherman into a calcium skeleton and a pile of topsoil in no time. Some people have a fear of this (taphophobia) and have elected to have their remains incinerated. On some mornings, you may notice earthworms on your sidewalk and think, “it must have rained last night and drove the night crawlers to the surface.” In reality, an Uber driver dropped them off at dawn. They spent the entire night at a crematorium feasting on fearful Fisherman Fred last night before his funeral pyre today. They are merely defecating him outside before returning to their burrows.  

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