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Earthworms form herds and make "group decisions", scientists have discovered.
The earthworms use touch to communicate and influence each other's behaviour, according to research published in the journal Ethology.
By doing so the worms collectively decide to travel in the same direction as part of a single herd.
The striking behaviour, found in the earthworm Eisenia fetida, is the first time that any type of worm, or annelid, has been shown to form active herds.
Palolo worms are an annelid sea worm of the Eunicidae family that inhabit tropical and temperate ocean waters worldwide. Their unique spawning behaviour first attracted attention in the South Pacific, particularly Samoa, Tonga, Fiji and other Polynesian islands, where swarms of headless palolo worms, of the species Eunice viridis, are taken for food during their annual risings. During a spawn, the rear end of the worm breaks off and undulates to the surface, releasing eggs and sperm in a milky, gelatinous soup. The head end remains attached to its burrow at the ocean floor. Palolo worms in the South Pacific are eaten boiled, fried or raw, or can be baked into palolo loaf with coconut milk and onions. They are often eaten on toast or crackers like caviar.