My eldest son is currently studying mini beasts for school so I thought I would see if the Whipple had any books which were relevant. The one that stands out is Charles Darwin’s The formation of mould through the action of worms. The Whipple has an 1881 edition but as I’m working from home I used the edition on Project Gutenberg.
I love the idea of someone like Darwin sitting staring at worms in pots on his desk very much like my son sits and watches his pet snails. Darwin also got his sons involved with the worm research as well as referencing the work of other scientific minds. Some of the experiments Darwin performed seem quite harmless and fun. He tested their sense of hearing by blowing a whistle, shouting and playing the bassoon. He also played certain notes on the piano to see how they reacted to sound and vibrations. Darwin also gives the worms different things to eat to see what they prefer. He tries things like onion, cabbage, various other plant and tree leaves and raw meat. The snails have been eating a variety of foods too.
I enjoyed reading the descriptions of the chapter contents as some of them were not too scientific sounding:
Nocturnal—Wander about at night
Feeble power of smell
The main part of the work is about how much earth the worms move. Darwin suggests two methods for this
“—by the rate at which objects left on the surface are buried, and more accurately by weighing the quantity brought up within a given time.
In conclusion Darwin mentions the importance of worms in the history of the world, they help with crop growing and the preservation of buildings for archaeologists. Not quite sure what it is that snails do?