Worm Scouts

Boy scouts can learn a thing or two about knots… from WORMS?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Have you ever tried to tie a knot so tight that you couldn’t undo it? Turns out there are OTHER organisms that have mastered the knotting technique! How do they do it? 

Enter Saad Bahmla and team from Georgia Tech. They studied how California blackworms could create such PERFECT knots.

Thousands of worms tangle themselves to form ball-shaped blobs to exchange temperature or moisture. AND they can detangle in MILLISECONDS! Researchers used ultrasounds and computer modeling to understand these magic knots.

What did they find? Worms create a spring-like shape when tangling up! This allows them to slide back out quickly!

Researchers think this technique could be applied to new materials, and robotics! Imagine a material of millions of worm-like filaments that can quickly tangle and untangle. These could create a smart adhesive bandage for wound healing! Neat.

All tangled up? WORM-ineer to the rescue!


Patil, V. P., Tuazon, H., Kaufman, E., Chakrabortty, T., Qin, D., Dunkel, J., & Bhamla, M. S. (2023). Ultrafast reversible self-assembly of Living Tangled matter. Science, 380(6643), 392–398. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.ade7759