"During the rainy season in the Orinoco Llanos of Columbia and Venezuela, an odd landscape feature appears in places: mounds of grassy plants, as big as five meters across and two meters tall, surrounded by water. Traversing this landscape, called surales, requires either hopping from mound to mound or trudging through the boggy bits in between.
Locals and scientists have generally agreed that some kind of earthworm creates the mounds, but what species and how it does so has been a mystery. Now Anne Zangerlé of the Braunschweig University of Technology in Germany and colleagues report that they’ve found the culprit — giant Andiorrhinus earthworms, which can grow to a meter in length as juveniles. And the mounds themselves, the team reports May 11 in PLOS ONE, are actually made mostly of earthworm poop.
Zangerlé and her colleagues used Google Earth images to locate surales landscapes, finding that they come in the shape of both mounds and labyrinths. Leaving the complex labyrinths for a future study, the team studied the mounds and the lands on which they were found in both the rainy and dry seasons. They characterized the soil and the plants and worms living in and on the mounds. And then they pieced all of that information together to come up with a scenario that they think explains the construction of the mounds".