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Two living specimens of the fabled giant Palouse earthworm have been captured for the first time in two decades in what represents a significant discovery of a creature that has achieved a mythic status in the area.
The giant Palouse earthworm has fascinated scientists for decades after long being written off as an extinct creature. Reports suggested that the worms had a penchant for spitting and smelled like lilies, further enhancing the myth of the earthworm in the agricultural Palouse region on the Washington-Idaho border.
"It's a good day for the worm," said University of Idaho soil scientist Jodi Johnson-Maynard in Moscow, Idaho, who has been leading the search.
The recent discovery of the worms appeared to dispel the myth about the creature's appearance. They don't spit, or smell like lilies, and aren't even that giant.
"One of my colleagues suggested we rename it the 'larger-than average Palouse earthworm,'" Johnson-Maynard said when the find was announced Tuesday.
While they had been thought to grow to 3 feet long, the adult worm measured about 10 or 12 inches fully extended, while the juvenile was 6 or 7 inches.