Scientists uncover the secrets behind wombats' unique cube poo

Rodiano Bonacci
Novembre 19, 2018

Australian biologists and scientists from around the world have discovered how the native wombat produces its rare cube-shaped poo.

Dr Patricia Yang, a fluid hydrodynamics specialist from Georgia Institute of Technology, has a particular interest in studying how blood, food and urine move within animals' bodies. I didn't even believe it was true at the beginning.

During the American Physical Society's Division of Fluid Dynamics 71st Annual Meeting, which will take place November 18-20 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Georgia, Yang and her co-authors, Scott Carver, David Hu and undergraduate student Miles Chan, will explain their findings from dissecting the alimentary systems, or digestive tracts, of wombats.

A team of scientists claims to have unraveled one of the animal kingdom's more peculiar mysteries: why wombat poop is cube-shaped.

After studying the digestive tracts of wombats put down after road accidents in Tasmania, a team led by Ms Yang presented its findings at the American Physical Society Division of Fluid Dynamics' annual meeting in Atlanta. Carver, the scientist, and Australian partner to the gathering of American mechanical engineers provided the wombat intestinal examples. The group concluded that the varying elastic properties of wombats' intestinal walls allowed for the cube formation.

Near the end of the intestine, they found that feces changed from liquidlike states to solid states made up of small, separated cubes.

In the built world, cubic structures - sugar cubes, sculptures, and architectural features - are common, and produced by injection molding or extrusion.

But how the wombat produces the cubed shapes is a phenomenon that has puzzled many observers of the furry marsupial. Now we have this third method.

"It would be a cool method to apply to the manufacturing process - how to make a cube with soft tissue instead of just moulding it".

Wombats are the are the only known species capable of producing cubes organically.

Wombats pile their faeces to mark their territory and to communicate with one another through scent. This is partially because they have quite poor eye sight.

The more prominent a faeces pile is, the more visually distinctive it is to other wombats - and therefore it is very important that their droppings don't roll away.

The higher and more prominently placed the pile of faeces, the more chance other wombats will engage in communication.

"We now have only two methods to manufacture cubes: We mold it, or we cut it".

"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".

The wombat's cubed faeces is a trait that's unique in the animal world, the researchers said, as cubes are usually created by cutting or molding. "This has been a fantastic collaboration, which shows the value of interdisciplinary research for making new scientific discoveries".

Altre relazioniGrafFiotech

Discuti questo articolo

Segui i nostri GIORNALE