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Worm charmer, 10, sets new record

June 29, 2009 at 4:34 PM   |   Comments

WILLASTON, England, June 29 (UPI) -- A 10-year-old girl set a new world record by bringing 567 worms up from the ground during Britain's World Worm Charming Championships.

Sophie Smith of Willaston, England, won the competition in her village Saturday by besting the previous world record of 511 worms listed in the Guinness Book of World Records, The Daily Telegraph reported Monday.

A number of techniques were employed to try to coax worms from the ground during the light rain Saturday, including a man who strummed rock tunes on his guitar, a woman who tap danced to the theme from "Star Wars," a man who played the xylophone with bottles and the most common method, sticking a garden fork into the ground and smacking it with a stick to create vibrations.

Kenneth Catania, a U.S. neuroscientist specializing in sonic phenomena, said in research published last year that worm charming is at its most effective when competitors make sounds that emulate those of the mole, a natural predator of the worm.

"We carefully compared the frequencies," Catania said, "and it's moles every time. When it rains the worms come out slowly, but with charming and moles they come out as if they were running. That's if worms could run."

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