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In Dune by Frank Herbert, Sietch Tabr has a cave that contains a little-maker or stunted worm. This worm is surrounded by water so that it cannot escape. Paul decides to try and change the water of life, and heads down to where the little maker lays to drown it and convert the water.

The worm being stunted may be a product of human interaction or through necessity:

  1. A larger worm may be to hard to handle or need to much water to poison.
  2. The stunted worm may have been stunted by being surrounded by water through its life.

Is there any finite explanation for why only little makers are used to create the water of life that is needed to become a Reverend Mother on Arrakis?

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    I'll have to check on that section of the Dune book - but I thought the "little makers" were the sand-trouts, and not sand-worms. – HorusKol Jan 7 '16 at 4:23
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Little makers and stunted worms are not the same. Little Makers are also called sandtrout:

The half-plant-half-animal deep-sand vector of the Arrakis sandworm

While the Water of Life is:

[a] liquid exhalation of a sandworm produced at the moment of its death from drowning

Both cites are from Dune - Appendix Terminology of the Imperium

The reason why only the sandworms can produce the water of life is left unclear in Dune though. It is mentioned that water is poisonous to sandworms (while not to sandtrout). Thus one could guess that the water of life would be the physiological reaction to this poison although this is mere speculation based on Dune alone.

There might be more information in the newer books of Brian Herbert but I did not have the time yet to check those for information.

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