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The gurgle of a huge worm belies 'endangered' label

What wriggles, grows to nine feet long, gurgles like an emptying bathtub, and lives underground in Australia? Answer: the world's longest invertebrate, the giant Gippsland earthworm. It has just been listed by the World Wildlife Fund as an endangered species, to the surprise of locals.

''You can dig up a couple of thousand of them off one acre here,'' said naturalist Mark Holmes, who lives in the state of Victoria's big worm country east of Melbourne.

The worm's great leap backward down holes produces the bathtub gurgle. The giant worm, often twice the thickness of a man's thumb, is regarded as a pest by farmers because it undermines water storage dams.

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