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Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 19 February 2006

Worm Fare

(GROSS OUT)

(Humans Eating Worms)(Brief Article)

11/28/2005

Science World

By Cody Crane

Can't stomach the thought of slurping down even a single earthworm? Manohar, a man from India, has set a Guinness World Record by swallowing 200 of the slimy critters in 20.22 seconds.

Earthworms may make you queasy, but they can be safe to eat when cooked. They're even a source of protein, a nutrient needed by the body to build muscle, says Tom Turpin, an entomologist who studies insects at Purdue University in Indiana.

But in addition to getting a nutritious snack, Manohar likely downed a gritty surprise--dirt from the worms' last meals. That's because earthworms munch on soil mixed with decaying bugs, plants, and animal droppings.

How to avoid the grit? "It's a good idea to let [the worms] void their guts or you'll be eating a tube full of soil," says Turpin. An earthworm's digestive system is much simpler than a human's: A worm lacks a stomach or intestines. So after a worm scoops soil into its mouth, the dirt moves through its digestive tract, the hollow tube where foods break down. After its body has extracted nutrients from the soil, the worm expels the remaining waste. To make sure enough time has passed for the dirt to exit a worm's system, it's wise to soak the critter overnight in water, says Turpin.

Still, a raw worm can carry harmful bacteria. Cooking the worms would destroy the microbes.

Daring Manohar skipped the cooking in favor of still-squirming worms. And they probably didn't die right away, says Turpin. Once swallowed, the worms most likely drowned in his stomach's digestive juices, the chemicals that break down food. That can take a while. "I've watched a lightning bug flash inside the stomach of a toad for up to five minutes before [the insect] died," he says.

 
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