Last month, Karl Umiker, a support scientist at the University of Idaho, was out on an unplowed fragment of prairie hunting the "big one" with a graduate student. There hadn't been a confirmed sighting of the worm since 2005, but Umiker had a new tool at his disposal. He calls it an "electroshocker." After jolting the soil a couple of times, Umiker dug around, and suddenly there it was. The worm was captured and is now sitting in a freezer at the University of Kansas, where it was positively identified. But Umiker can't say how big this prairie giant is. "The problem with earthworm stories is that they get longer and longer, and you can always stretch an earthworm," he says. That's "under the normal conditions -- without stretching it -- close to 20 centimeters." That's about 8 inches. Soil ecologist Jodi Johnson-Maynard, who heads the project, backpedals from the whole "giant" thing. "There are reportings of a meterlong earthworm, 3 feet long, but I haven't seen that," she says. "Now, possibly if one of these guys lives a long time, but I think most common might be a foot or a little bit less."