Bootlace worm - Lineus longissimus
Image: Steve Trewhella (published on the MarLIN Web site)
This animal is among the world’s longest. It may reach a length of more than 50 meters!
I’ve been discussing the fictional sandworm of Dune. So far, the data indicate that the planet Arrakis, or Dune, could exist, but that life could not have evolved on a planet in orbit around Canopus (where Herbert places Arrakis). Even if Dune were terraformed and introduced life existed there, it could not long flourish in the absence of plate tectonics.
Now let’s look at what types of worms exist on Earth, where we enjoy abundant water and oxygen, and plate tectonics regularly causes earthquakes and volcanoes that recycle our carbon dioxide (among other things).
This lowly animal won the title of World’s longest animal, when a specimen measuring 180 feet beat out the longest dinosaur and the Blue Whale.
Along the coast of Norway, scientists found 30-meter long individuals and estimate that they can reach 60 meters when they stretch their body to its full length.
So why can’t Dune’s sandworm be this big?
The Bootlace Worm lives in the ocean, with certain problems like nutrient exchange, water balance, excretion, and mobility taken care of since it’s immersed in water. A terrestrial animal faces numerous challenges, such as water balance and thermoregulation that marine organisms don’t have to deal with.
And then, Dune has no oceans and Herbert said that water is poisonous to the sandworm. So we won’t find Lineus longissimus or other animals like it on Dune.