Researchers may have found the answer to a mystery in the animal kingdom: How do wombats produce poop that looks like cubes?
A study from scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology found the elasticity of a wombat’s intestines play a key role in shaping their feces into cubes. Authors of the study examined wombats euthanized after collisions with motor vehicles in Australia and Tasmania, focusing on their digestive tracts.
The study discovered that near the end of a wombat’s intestines, the feces would morph from a liquid state into solid, separate cubic shapes. Elastic properties associated with a wombat’s intestines help create the cube form.
“We currently have only two methods to manufacture cubes: We mold it, or we cut it. Now we have this third method,” said Patricia Yang, lead author on the study and a postdoctoral fellow in mechanical engineering at Georgia Tech, in a statement.
“It would be a cool method to apply to the manufacturing process — how to make a cube with soft tissue instead of just molding it.”
Yang and colleagues presented their findings at the American Physical Society’s Division of Fluid Dynamics Annual Meeting in Atlanta, which ends Tuesday.
Wombats use their cubic feces to mark territory and communicate with each other using scent, researchers said. The feces is typically placed in piles to better communicate, and the cubic shape prevents droppings from rolling away.
“We can learn from wombats and hopefully apply this novel method to our manufacturing process,” said Yang.
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