Unearthing a Dissection

Phillip Lu


The Earthworm, Lumbricus terrestris, is in the phylum Annelida. It is most adapted to burrowing through soil while decomposing. It has adapted to soils by having a mucus coating which allows it to move as well as letting oxygen in. Earthworms decompose by sucking in soil and grinding the food, it is then digested and absorbed by the intestine.

As a decomposer, it has a huge influence.


The primary objective is for students to dissect an earthworm to see an earthworm's anatomy. Students will gain valuable hands-on experience and use scientific terms to describe the earthworm. Students should be able to discern each organ of the earthworm.


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The earthworm like many more complex organisms has a closed circulatory system, meaning that its blood is confined to blood vessels and its blood is recirculated so it gets maximum use. An earthworm has neither lungs nor gills but uses its body's great surface area to absorb oxygen from the soil. The oxygen is taken in by the dorsal blood vessel and travels to the five aortic arches (hearts) by the esophagus where it is pumped to the lower, ventral blood vessel. The ventral blood vessel pumps the blood to all segments and organs in need of oxygen. In each segment, there is a small blood vessel that sends the blood from the ventral blood vessel back to the dorsal blood vessel, thus completing the loop (Musurca).



Type: Invertebrate

Diet: Herbivore

Average life span in the wild: Up to 6 years

Size: Up to 14 in (35 cm)

Weight: Up to 0.39 oz (11.2 g)

Did you know? Contrary to playground legend, if a worm is cut in half, two will not grow


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1.) "Common Earthworm." National Geographic. National Geographic, n.d. Web. 07 Apr. 2014.

2.) Toy, Andrew. "The Anatomy of an Earthworm (Lumbricus Terrestris)." Earthworm - Circulatory System. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 Apr. 2014.

3.) "Lecture 2." Lecture 2. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Apr. 2014.

4.) "Earthworm Labeling Answer Key." Earthworm Labeling Answer Key. Biology Corner, n.d. Web. 07 Apr. 2014.