The Labyrinths

  • A. K. Dewdney


Evening, soft and warm, lures the earthworm, Lumbricus terrestris, out of his burrow just far enough to expose the first dozen segments. He is handsome to a fault. In World Two his “head” resembles a stack of glistening, brown inner tubes, tapering to a prostomium-a blunt, conical nose for business. Lumbricus points his head upward and waves it in slow circles, nosing the air to see what vegetation might be near. Abruptly he stops and another dozen segments materialize, gliding through the air, then over the ground, to an emerging cottonwood seedling. He slides his prostomium over the shoot, guiding it into the mouth set shark-like on one side of the great nose. He cannot chew the shoot, for he has no teeth. Instead he seizes it with his mouth, prostomium pressing tight, and retracts into his burrow. The shoot slips easily from the ground, and Lumbricus drags it home.


Litter Layer Conical Nose Burgess Shale Floodplain Meadow Bacterivore Nematode 
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© A.K. Dewdney 1998

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  • A. K. Dewdney

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