I read online that a Sandworm can grow to 450 meters long, and there are legends of worms up to 1000 meters long. The same article also stated that Sandworms are territorial and so will claim an area of desert as their own.

That got me to thinking, just how big is the planet Dune in comparison to Earth and has anyone worked out from its size how many sandworms could be present on the planet at any one time?

  • 1
    As they are often used for transport over long distances,I think the population is quite high; from the books, a simple thumper put anywhere will call a worm quickly. – Max Feb 18 '20 at 12:08

1.6 Million*

The only real information we have to go on is a line by Dr. Kynes about the size of a worm's territory. From Dune:

“Big ones may control three or four hundred square kilometers. Small ones—”

According to the non-canonical Dune Encyclopedia, Arrakis has a radius of approximately 6,128 km, giving it a total surface area of 4.72×108 km2.

So, as a really rough estimate, let's make a few assumptions:

  1. Dr. Kynes never finished his statement, but lets say for argument that an average-sized worm's territory to be 250 square kilometres.
  2. Fifteen per cent of Arrakis' surface is inaccessible to worms (the Imperial Basin, the "wormline" surrounding the north pole, rock outcroppings, etc). This would leave a "worm-friendly" surface area of approximately 4.012×108 km2.
  3. Let's exclude altogether other stages of the worm lifecycle (sandtrout, etc), post-spice blow areas where they could be several new worms, as well as the "stunted worms" kept by the Fremen.
  4. We'll also ignore instances of contested territories and rare occurrences of multiple worms rampaging after shield generators and the like, and the fact that these territories are probably highly fluid and ever-changing as worms mature and move about.

Using our extremely broad reasoning, we could say that:

401,200,000 / 250 = 1,604,800 worm territories of average size.

  • 4
    That is a great answer, thankyou. – Richard C Feb 18 '20 at 15:01
  • 15
    @Vanguard3000 However, the appendix to Dune gives the distance between two cities. The map of Dune in Dune shows those two cities. If one turns the line between the cities to north-south one can see how many degrees of latitude it covered. Thus one can calculate the length of a degree of latitude and thus the circumference, diameters, and surface area of Dune. I did that calculation once and found that Dune should be smaller than Earth's Moon. Which seems improbable but is based on more canonical sources than the Dune Encyclopedia. – M. A. Golding Feb 18 '20 at 15:53
  • 2
    @MichaelSeifert Which makes sense; Dune mentions Arrakis' gravity being ~0.9, and its mineral composition seems similar. – Vanguard3000 Feb 18 '20 at 20:37
  • 2
    400 km² for a 1 km long worm is like 1600 m² for a 2 m human. Which is a 40 m x 40 m area. A little garden. Seems very crowded if the whole planet is divided up like that! You could never leave your small garden because it's surrounded by the small gardens of other territorial worms on all sides. – Daniel Darabos Feb 20 '20 at 12:01
  • 2
    While burrowing through sand seems per se improbable (it doesn't sound any easier or less energy-intense than burrowing through rock ... are sandworms nuclear-powered?), how deep is the Sea of Sand? Can you have several layers of sandworm? – David Tonhofer Feb 20 '20 at 18:52

To be technically correct, while being not at all helpful, at the time of God Emperor of Dune there was exactly one sandworm on Arrakis.

All other time periods, your mileage may vary.

  • 17
    And after the destruction of Arrakis, zero worms – Valorum Feb 18 '20 at 12:05
  • 4
    I've downvoted. OP isn't asking for the worm population at any specific moment but rather how many works can be present theoretically – Valorum Feb 18 '20 at 12:10
  • 3
    @Max no. The only spice in existence during this period was Leto's stockpile. – Daniel Roseman Feb 18 '20 at 14:16
  • 17
    @Valorum You just have to regard Leto as extremely territorial. The math still works out to 1. – Spencer Feb 18 '20 at 14:52
  • 7
    @Valorum the question's title and body conflict as to what he's asking: "Roughly how large is the population of Sandworms?", which is point-in-time vs "how many sandworms could be present on the planet at any one time?" – RonJohn Feb 18 '20 at 20:04

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.