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The Earth Moved: On the Remarkable Achievements of Earthworms
A blind, lungless little plow that sifts our soil a teaspoon at a time is responsible for engineering our entire ecosystem. Amy Stewart has uncovered the earthworm's purposeful cycle into a delightful read that also serves as a reminder to savor our curiosities.
Synopses & Reviews
In the tradition of the bestselling book The Botany of Desire comes this fascinating exploration of the world underground and one of its most amazing denizens. The earthworm may be small, spineless, and blind, but its role in the ecosystem is profound. It tills the soil, destroys microscopic organisms that cause plant disease, breaks down toxins, and turns soil into rich compost, creating the most fertile areas on earth.
In her witty and offbeat style, Amy Stewart shows just how much depends on the humble worm. The august Charles Darwin devoted his last years to the meticulous study of these creatures, admiring their remarkable achievements. It may be doubted whether there are many other animals which have played so important a part in the history of the world, as have these lowly organized creatures, he declared.
With Darwin as her inspiration, Stewart weaves her own backyard investigations with those of the obsessed oligochaetologists, unearthing the complex life that exists beneath our feet. From the legendary giant Australian worm that burrows up to fifteen feet below ground to the modest nightcrawler that inspired Darwin to write his last book to Stewart's energetic red wigglers, The Earth Moved gives worms their due and exposes their hidden — and extraordinary — universe.
"[A]bsorbing....Stewart writes in a charming, meditative but scientifically grounded style that is informed by her personal relationship with the worms in her compost bin." Publishers Weekly
"Stewart eagerly (and literally) digs up the dirt on earthworms....[She] conveys a real enthusiasm about her subject." Library Journal
"An admirable portrait of that tireless ploughman: the earthworm....A nifty piece of natural history." Kirkus Reviews
"This quirky book will find a niche in all gardening and natural-history collections." Booklist
Book News Annotation:
Stewart, a gardening columnist, takes general readers on a journey underground and introduces the earthworm, looking at its impact on the ecosystem and its amazing abilities to plough soil, fight plant diseases, and absorb dangerous pollutants. She looks at the history of research on earthworms, especially the work of Charles Darwin, talks to current researchers studying worms, and looks at worms near and far, from the legendary giant Australian worm to the common earthworm in the compost bin.
Annotation ©2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
When Amy Stewart (author of From the Ground Up) realized that she knew more about what lived in the ocean than what inhabited her own little garden plot, she set about exploring that underground world and became obsessed with the humble, but industrious and abundant earthworm. Inspired by Darwin, whose last book was devoted to his study of the earthworm, Stewart's curiosity brought her into the labs of biologists, botanists, taxonomists, and oligochaetologists (folks who study worms) to understand the immense significance of these creatures. She expertly melds their research with her own observations on the psychology and behavior of earthworms to tell their amazing story in a compelling and witty book.
In The Earth Moved, Amy Stewart takes us on a journey through the underground world and introduces us to one of its most amazing denizens. The earthworm may be small, spineless, and blind, but its impact on the ecosystem is profound. It ploughs the soil, fights plant diseases, cleans up pollution, and turns ordinary dirt into fertile land. Who knew?
In her witty, offbeat style, Stewart shows that much depends on the actions of the lowly worm. Charles Darwin devoted his last years to the meticulous study of these creatures, praising their remarkable abilities. With the august scientist as her inspiration, Stewart investigates the worm's subterranean realm, talks to oligochaetologists--the unsung heroes of earthworm science--who have devoted their lives to unearthing the complex life beneath our feet, and observes the thousands of worms in her own garden. From the legendary giant Australian worm that stretches to ten feet in length to the modest nightcrawler that wormed its way into the heart of Darwin's last book to the energetic red wigglers in Stewart's compost bin, The Earth Moved gives worms their due and exposes their hidden and extraordinary universe. This book is for all of us who appreciate Mother Nature's creatures, no matter how humble.
Includes bibliographical references (p. -211) and index.
About the Author
Amy Stewart is the author of From the Ground Up: The Story of a First Gardenand a regular contributor to Bird Watcher’s Digest, Organic Gardening, and the San Francisco Chronicle. She lives in northern California and travels all over the country extolling the virtues of earthworms. She has been known to board a plane with several dozen worms in her carry-on bag. So far, no one has objected.
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