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Ragworms found to cultivate crops from seed

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posted on Oct, 28 2016 @ 05:24 PM
A very interesting article discussing ragworms utilizing a tough shelled seed to cultivate sprouts from. While it is unprecedented and somewhat surprising....i can't say I am wholly surprised simply due to the fact that it creates an advantage for the ragworm to do this, so the behavior is selected for, and has been promoted within the species.

Ted Schultz, an entomologist at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC, thinks that sprout cultivation could be important to the worms’ survival, and that this is a sophisticated adaptation because they must wait to harvest the food rather than consuming it immediately.

“The behaviour will likely be favoured by evolution, and future generations of ragworms will also store seeds and reap the deferred benefits,” he says. “It’s the beginning of agriculture.”

Ragworms are not the first animals to take up farming. Some beetles, termites and ants have cultivated fungus since long before humans started growing crops. And there are likely to be further examples: Zhu and his team think the ragworms may be cultivating bacteria in their burrows as a source of food, too.

The researchers also suspect that earthworms could be sprout-growers, because they are thought to supplement their diets with seeds. “They have similar problems finding high-quality food,” says Zhu.

It brings up another question, however: do land herbivores not do the same thing (sort of)? We have mesquite because cows, while on cattle drives, cultivated it for us. Undigested mesquite beans found cow patties to be quite fertile for starting seedlings, and now we have mesquite widespread.

Anyway, interesting article. I wouldn't read too much into it....but the presence of cultivation as a behavior seems to be noteworthy if nothing else. The basis is "seed caching", meaning squirrels could do this if their acorns would sprout and they eat it. Its not an intelligent decision insomuch as a group of behaviors that allows this species to enjoy the benefits of this chain of behaviors.

If anyone wants to roll up their sleeves and dig into the actual paper behind this article:;jsessionid=062B277F06DAB8CE04481B546B9A8C5C.f04t01

posted on Oct, 28 2016 @ 05:40 PM
Isn't this the way life on Earth works? It is interesting, don't get me wrong, but the birds and the bees et al.

Edit:- I have used Ragworm as bait for sea fishing all my life. It's better than Lugworm, but not indigenous to the coasts I fish. Adding a strip of squid to the hook always comes up with more favourable results.
edit on 28/10/16 by Cobaltic1978 because: (no reason given)


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