Wiggly World

Worms are any of thousands of species of animals that usually have long tubular bodies, no legs, and no visible sensory organs. Nearly all worms are invertebrates and have neither an internal skeletal system nor an external skeletal system. The term is in common usage, but it is not used in modern scientific classifications. The modern word originated from the Old English language, in which the word wyrm was used to refer to a mythical serpentine dragon. It was later adapted and used in the taxonomy system of Carolus Linnaeus.

Worms vary in size and can range from microscopic organisms to sea-dwelling monstrosities over 180 feet in length. Some of the types of animals commonly referred to as worms include earthworms, roundworms, flatworms, arrow worms and many types of insect larvae, such as maggots and grubs. Many types of worms are parasites, living inside the bodies of humans or other animals to the detriment of the host.

Worm Habitat and Ecology

Worms can be found in nearly every ecosystem in the world. They can be found in freshwater, saltwater, on the seashore, on the surface of the soil and underground. They can also be found living inside of plants or animals as parasites, eventually deteriorating the health of the host.

Worms also have a variety of ecological roles. While some worms are parasites, living inside of a host animal, most worms live free on the surface of the soil, underground or in bodies of water. Many free-living worms are considered decomposers because they eat dead plants and animals, transferring their nutrients to the soil through their excrement or castings. Worms also play an important role in the food chain of nearly every ecosystem.

Worms in Culture

Worms are usually considered vile and disgusting animals because they are associated with dirt, decomposition and parasites. Worms are often used as a metaphor or analogy for corrupt people, evil people or people with otherwise poor moral standards.

More recently, worms have been used to describe a type of malicious software or a virus that hides inside a computer system and can move locations by “burrowing” into other files or folders.

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