The secret of cubic wombat feces revealed

American researchers have been studying the mysterious feces of wombats for two years and have finally figured out why the excrement is cubic. Writes about this magazine Soft Matter.

As it turned out, for wombats, the process of defecation has not only physiological significance, with the help of feces, individuals communicate with each other. Each wombat can defecate up to 100 times per night. Thus, the animal marks the territory in which it lives. As a rule, wombats leave heaps of cubic feces on the hills. Scientists managed to find out that an individual coming to a foreign territory is able to “read” information about a wombat living there from these piles: the smell and location of feces are taken into account. Since the excrement is cubic in shape, it does not roll downhills, which is important for marking areas.

To find out the nature of such an unusual form of feces, the researchers built a mathematical model that mimics the activity of the wombat’s intestinal peristalsis. And if the very first version of the origin of cubic “letters” for relatives was the unusual shape of the anus of wombats (which is not true – it is common in animals), then it was the model that showed that the cubic shape is obtained as a result of the interaction of soft and hard areas of the intestine with digested food. These areas are found in the last 17% of the intestine, the total length of which is approximately 10 m.

Similar technology can be used in food production, scientists say. For example, in meat processing plants to give cubic sausages. It is not known if developments in this area are already underway.

Note that scientists also suspected that wombats deliberately mold cubes from feces. But this version turned out to be false.

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Alexandr Ivanov earned his Licentiate Engineer in Systems and Computer Engineering from the Free International University of Moldova. Since 2013, Alexandr has been working as a freelance web programmer.
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Alexandr Ivanov

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