By Alex Wiggan (Ryan the work experience lad and R.Y.A.N II)
Welcome Science fans, thanks for coming back for the fourth part of The Science Of Superheroes: Science Goes Wild. This week we’ve ventured over to Sackville Park, Manchester on the hunt for worms! The reason we’re doing this is because this week we’re looking at the mutant Nightcrawler and his connection to his namesake… which will all become very clear, shortly.
WHO IS NIGHTCRAWLER?
Nightcrawler is the teleporting mutant X-man, who crops up in the pages of Marvel Comics. Nightcrawler first appeared in Giant-size X-Men #1 in 1975 and was created by Len Wein and Dave Cockrum.
IS HE IN ANY WAY AN ACTUAL NIGHTCRAWLER?
No, not at all. As stated (on numerous occasions in the comics) Nightcrawler is pretty much a fuzzy little elf! His skin...or fur, is blue/back, he has pointy ears and teeth, oh and he also has a tail! Born a mutant, Nightcrawler also has superhuman agility and the ability to teleport. His name presumably comes from the fact that he hangs around in the shadows…crawling about.
OH, SO TELL ME, WHAT MAKES NIGHTCRAWLERS SO SPECIAL?
Well, nightcrawlers are actually a type of earthworm that come in two varieties; Canadian and European. They tend to only appear at night, following a period of heavy rainfall when the soil is wetter than an otter’s pocket and as they’re earthworms they from the Oligochaeta order. Earthworms have long tubular bodies, they eat leafs and plants, they can live anywhere between 1 to 8 years and although there are variations between the species earthworms also have the ability to regenerate lost segments. They live underground (as they tend to die of exposure above ground) and they travel through the soil using a series of muscular contractions. Oh and as they move through the soil earthworms force air through the tunnels they create, which is good for mixing nutrients and minerals in the surrounding vegetation, which is rather useful for aerating the earth. Now here’s something that you might impress you, earthworms are hermaphrodites, because they contain both male and female reproductive organs and there are even some that are parthenogenetic, which means that they can reproduce without the need of a mate, resulting in either a full or half clone of themselves!
WOW THAT IS IMPRESSIVE, BUT HOW ALIKE ARE THEY?
Well Nightcrawler can’t reproduce alone (although I’m not sure how many times as a teenager he tried) and he isn’t slimy. The truth is Nightcrawler isn’t like a nightcrawler at all. In this respect it’s difficult to compare the two, however I know who I’d prefer to have on my team should I go up against Magneto. Nightcrawler’s teleportation power alone makes him better equipped in a fight but let’s just check with R.Y.A.N II for a definitive answer.
OK R.Y.A.N II, IS NIGHTCRAWLER MORE POWERFUL THAN A NIGHTCRAWLER?
R.Y.A.N II SCIENTIFIC READOUT: Yes.
Right I promise next week I’ll have R.Y.A.N II fixed to give a bit more information, so whilst I get to work on reprogramming the CPU... or something like that there’s just enough time to remind you to come back for part 5, when we look at Spider-Woman!