Here’s a sh*t article for your Wednesday… wombats do square poos!
Who knew. Well, I’m sure the wombat community was aware of it, if they can even recognise shapes that is, but was the human community? I don’t know, but they are now.
Yep, today’s news is, wombats produce cube-shaped faeces, despite not having cube-shaped anuses.
So why does this happen? As with literally everything in the world – except religion – it’s thanks to science.
It’s been common knowledge for some time now how these little fellas like to pile up their cubic turds to mark their territory, everyone knows that, right? They pile up their dung, the bigger the better, and the smellier the better, to make sure no other wombats stray onto their turf.
Being cube-shaped, these walls of wombat waste don’t roll away – clever little dudes. Also, wombats produce up to 100 of these things every night, so no wonder they’ve learned to do something productive with them.
But what wasn’t common knowledge was how they made their poop this shape. Did the wombats skilfully form it like mini-potters sitting at a potter’s wheel, like the marsupial version of Ghost? Or do the cute little critters just squeeze really hard until it plops out like they’re rolling a dice?
Luckily for us, a team of scientists set themselves the challenge of finding out.
— National Poo Museum (@PooMuseum) September 15, 2018
One of the scientists, Patricia Yang, who’s a postdoctoral fellow in mechanical engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, told The Guardian:
My curiosity got triggered when I realised that cubical faeces exist, I thought it was not true in the first place.
So, presumably after their first experiment of lifting up a wombat’s tail and not finding a square anus threw a spanner in the works, Yang and a team of scientists set about finding out how these marsupials produce their square poop.
By studying the digestive tracts of the common wombat (on subjects who had died from natural causes), the scientists found the marsupial excrement solidified in the last eight per cent of the intestine.
By using modelling balloons to inflate the intestine, they observed the organ stretching unevenly, unlike in the rest of the intestine, thereby allowing the unique shape to be produced at the very end of the digestive period.
Wombat intestines have periodic stiffness, meaning stiff-soft-stiff-soft, along the circumference to form cubical faeces.
So what does this all mean for us?
Although it may be some time before humans produce cubed crap and use it as building blocks, Yang believes the method of forming the cubes in wombats could influence the engineering world.
At the moment, we can only produce cubes by moulding them or cutting them. Pooping them out like wombats, however, offers a
turd third option.
— National Poo Museum (@PooMuseum) November 19, 2018
It would be a cool method to apply to the manufacturing process. We can learn from wombats and hopefully apply this novel method to our manufacturing process.
We can understand how to move this stuff in a very efficient way.
Happy Wednesday everyone!
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Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.