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Environment

Charismatic Megafauna

DiscoblogBy Amos Zeeberg (Discover Web Editor)September 13, 2006 3:00 AM

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Some creatures just cry out for poster-child status in the conservation world--think giant panda, blue whale, and African elephant. Efforts on behalf of these large, attention-grabbing "umbrella species" help to protect everything that lives in their habitats, no matter how diminutive or homely. According to the AP, there's a new oversized conservation icon poised to wiggle into the limelight in the prairielands of the American Northwest: the giant Palouse earthworm. Yep, a worm. But this baby is a 3-foot-long pink spitting worm. (If that's not charisma, I don't know what is.) The elusive monster annelid has been spotted only thrice since 1987; following a find last May in Washington, scientists are petitioning for its protection under the Endangered Species Act in the hopes of saving not only the giant worm but the Palouse Prairie it calls home.

So, here's hoping the worm gets its due.

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