Saturday, October 18, 2008

Dune's sandworms. Startling new evidence about their behaviour

Readers of Frank Herbert's Dune novels are familiar with the notion of using 'thumpers' to draw the giant sandworms to the surface - usually to then use them as giant sand-taxis, sort ofthe ultimate off road vehicles.

People said Frank got his inspiration from earthworm collectors, some of whom pound the ground, some a stake driven thereto, resulting in the worms surfacing for easy exploitatino.

Vanderbilt University biologist Ken Catania's reserches however, reveal that the reason that earthworms head for the surface when their ground is thumped is that they percieve the noise as the sound of a giant worm-eating mole digging its terrible way worard the,m.

To surface is to flee, then: According to Professor Catania, moles don't hunt prey on the surface. See his report here

So one fears to ask (because it could incite young Herbert into yet another Dune sequel or prequel!) Dares one ask, what dread beast do the arrakis sandworms believe they are fleeing, when they respond to a Fremen thumper????

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