Earthworms, commonly known as earthworms, also known as Eel, are the representative animals of Oligochaeta in annelida. Earthworms are saprophytic living animals. They live in humid environment and feed on corrupt organic matter. They are full of a large number of microorganisms but seldom get sick. This is related to the unique number of antimicrobial immune systems in these earthworms.
In scientific classification, they belong to unidirectional earthworms. The body is cylindrical (distinct from the cylindrical shape of linear animals), symmetrical on both sides and segmented: it consists of more than 100 segments. After the Eleventh segment, there is a dorsal foramen in the middle of the back of each segment; there is no skeleton, it belongs to invertebrates, with bare body surface and no cuticle. Except for the first two segments of the body, all the other segments have bristles. Hermaphroditism, allogeneic fertilization, reproduction by the ring to produce cocoons, reproduction of the next generation. There are more than 2500 known earthworms. Darwin pointed out in 1881 that earthworms are the most important animal group in the world’s evolutionary history.

Physiological structure

Body wall and secondary body cavity

The body wall of earthworms consists of cuticle, epithelium, circular muscular layer, longitudinal muscular layer and coelomic epithelium. The outermost layer is a single layer of columnar epithelial cells whose secretions form cuticle. The membrane is very thin, consisting of collagen fibers and non-fibrous layers with small holes. Cylindrical epithelial cells were mixed with fine glands cells, divided into mucous cells and protein cells, can secrete mucus and make the body surface moist. Earthworms encounter intense stimulation. Mucous cells secrete a large amount of mucus to wrap the body into a mucous membrane, which has a protective effect. Epithelial cells have short basal cells at the base, and some people think that they can develop into columnar epithelial cells. Sensory cells aggregate to form sensory organs and disperse between epithelial cells. The nerve fibers of a thin layer of nerve tissue under the epithelium are connected at the base. In addition, there are photoreceptor cells, the base of epithelium, also connected with the nerve fibers below it.

The muscles of earthworms belong to the twill muscles, which generally account for about 40% of the body volume. They are well-developed and flexible. When the longitudinal muscular layer of some segments of the earthworm contracts and the circular muscular layer relaxes, the segment becomes thicker and shorter, and the retracted bristles born on the body wall obliquely extend into the surrounding soil; at this time, the circular muscular layer of the former segment contracts, the longitudinal muscular layer relaxes, the segment becomes thinner and longer, and the bristles retract, thus breaking away from the surrounding soil. The bristle support of the latter segment pushes the body forward. In this way, the contraction wave of muscles gradually passes forward and backward along the longitudinal axis of the body.

The coelomic compartment is separated by the septum according to the body segment, and each compartment is connected with a small hole. Each body chamber is formed by the development of left and right two body sacs. The medial part of the sac formed visceral membranes, while the dorsal and ventral parts formed dorsal and peritoneal mesenteries. In earthworms, the mesentery of the abdomen degenerates, only part between the intestine and the abdominal vessels exists, while the mesentery of the back disappears. The part between the anterior and posterior coelomic sacs is closely together, forming a septum. Some species have no septum in the esophagus.

Digestive system

The digestive tract runs longitudinally in the central part of the body cavity and passes through the septum. The muscular layer of the wall of the digestive tract is well developed, which can improve peristalsis and digestive function. The digestive tract is differentiated into mouth, mouth, throat, esophagus, sand sac, stomach, intestine and anus. The mouth can be turned out from the mouth to ingest food. The pharyngeal muscles are well developed, the muscles contract, and the pharyngeal cavity enlarges to support feeding. There is a single-cell pharyngeal gland outside the pharynx, which secretes mucus and proteinase, moisturizes food and has a preliminary digestive effect. After pharynx, there is a short and thin esophagus with esophageal glands on its wall. It can secrete calcium and neutralize acidic substances. The back of the esophagus is a muscular sand sac (gizzard), lined with a thick cutin membrane, which can grind food. From mouth to sand sac, the ectoderm is formed and belongs to foregut. The digestive tract behind the sand sac is rich in microvessels and glands, which is called stomach. There is a circle of gastric glands in front of the stomach, which functions like pharyngeal glands. The digestive tract enlarges to form the intestine, and its dorsal central fovea enters into a blind canal (typhlosole), which enlarges the area of digestion and absorption. Digestion and absorption are mainly performed in the intestine. The outermost visceral membranes of the intestinal wall specialize into yellow cells. Since the 26th body segment, a pair of conical cecum (caeca) extending forward from both sides of the intestine can secrete a variety of enzymes, which are important digestive glands. The stomach and intestine originate from the endoderm and belong to the midgut. The posterior intestine is relatively short, accounting for about 20 body segments in the posterior end of the digestive tract. It has no blind passage and no digestive function. Open to the body through the anus. The digestive system of earthworms consists of more developed digestive ducts and glands. The digestive ducts are composed of oral cavity, pharynx, esophagus, crop sac, sand sac, stomach, small intestine, cecum, rectum and anus.

Circulatory system

Earthworms are very special. Like their body segments without obvious merger, their hearts are also divided into several segments in the front of the body, generally 4-5, which are circular, like enlarged blood vessels, so they are also called circular blood vessels. The dorsal side of the annular heart is connected with the dorsal blood vessel from the back to the front, and the ventral side is connected with the abdominal blood vessel from the front to the back. The abdominal blood vessel and its branches are connected with the inferior nerve blood vessel from the front to the back. The annular heart has thicker muscular walls than blood vessels and pulsates. There are also valves that open unilaterally to ensure blood flow from the dorsal to the abdominal vessels. Generally speaking, the blood flow is powered by the pulsation of these independent annular hearts. The direction of blood flow is from back to front (in the dorsal vessels), from back to abdomen (in the annular heart), and from front to back (abdominal vessels and subnervous vessels).
Respiration and Excretion
The excretory organs of earthworms are posterior renal tubules. In general, each segment has a pair of typical posterior renal tubules.

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