Day 310 – Another poo mystery solved by science

Via Brian Micklethwait, here’s another one from the category “Who the hell asked?”

Just what we all needed to know. I can finally sleep easy tonight.

Apparently, it’s all to do with the last metre of the intestine and not the shape of the extrusion point. Although, presumably the extrusion point must also be that sort of shape though anyway because isn’t there something about a square peg in a round hole or something?

Ag, it’s actually fine. I really don’t need to know. Really.

There are some delicious little comments in the article, such as the name of the journal in which this study was published: Soft Matter.

It’s not all about shit, either. I was enthralled to read about Phase transition characterization of poly(oligo(ethylene glycol)methyl ether methacrylate) brushes using the quartz crystal microbalance with dissipation by Guntner et al., and really enjoyed the incredible work of Hoeger and Ursell at the University of Oregon, demonstrating Steric scattering of rod-like swimmers in low Reynolds number environments. Who knew?

Anyway, what is the reason that wombats have cube-shaped poo?

Asked why wombats have this feature, Carver said one theory was that wombats, with their strong sense of smell, communicate with each other via faeces and that the cube shape helps prevent the faeces from rolling away.

The researchers also found that cube-shaped faeces on an eight degree slope rolled far less than spherical-shaped models.

Well, I’m glad someone has done the hard research yards and discovered that cubes roll less than spheres. Absolutely groundbreaking stuff. Dice manufacturers will be livid when they read that.
All this time and they’ve been wasting their time working with cubes instead of prolonging our anticipation by using spherical-shaped models:

“Will it be a three…? Will it…? Will it…? Ah. It’s not really stopping.
I might just go and grab a quick drink while we wait until it’s done.
Hang on! There! It’s a two!


And it’s also a six.”

Actually, perhaps not.

But if it was so very important for your poo to stay where you left it, why would you evolve:

…big changes in the thickness of muscles inside the intestine, varying between two stiffer regions and two more flexible regions… in addition to the drying out of the faecal material in the distal colon.

Anyway. The paper is here should you wish to read further:

Of course they do.

All your questions will be answered there, aside from the huge, gaping omission: which way do they face when they are doing it?