Puzzle solved: this is how wombat dung is made

American scientists have discovered how wombat produces its feces in the form of a cube. The stocky marsupials with their short feet use flexible, flexible gut walls, according to the research team led by Patricia Yang of the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta.

litter mass baffling biology

“This came to me because I’ve never seen anything so strange in biology,” Yang said. “It was a mystery.” At first I thought the cube shaped crap was an internet joke. But then she and her colleagues began dissecting and examining the wombat’s digestive system. To do this, the team used animals that had been euthanized after traffic accidents on the island of Tasmania.

So that piles of wombat don’t roll

Loving vegetarians leave 80 to 100 small clumps each day in order to mark their territory and communicate with each other via scents. According to the researchers, they chose the places where the piles could be easily seen because their eyesight is poor.

The higher and better the pile, the more it will attract other wombat to smell it and exchange ideas. In turn, the shape of the dung plays a decisive role here: the piles should not roll away, but form small piles in the open.

This is how wombat droppings similar to animal dung are formed

The question of which lumps are useful has one thing to do. However, another question arises: how can angular secretions appear in the round intestines of animals? Scientists have long suspected that the time factor plays a role here. Humans digest their food in about two days. On the other hand, wombats keep food in their intestines four times longer. This significantly removes moisture from the compost so that it is drier and dimensionally stable.

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Solve the puzzle using a mathematical model

Yang and her research team have now discovered that the cubic shape of stool appears only in the last piece of intestine, which is ten meters long. In this section, the special structure of the intestine allows the passage of lumpy stools. The intestines here are sometimes twice as thick and four times more solid than the rest, and the mathematical model allowed the researchers to understand how stool forms into cubes in the hard rectum. Edges are formed by the interaction of faster contractions in the stiffer area of ​​the intestine and slower movements in the softer areas.

Research is also relevant to human health

Yang is convinced that searching for wombat can also be beneficial to humans. Because, according to Yang, one knows that one of the very early symptoms of colon cancer is that the part of the colon becomes stiff. So the chair’s unusual shape could be a sign that something is wrong.

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