Finally, one of nature’s biggest mysteries was solved. A team of scientists managed to find out why wombat poop is shaped like a cube. The Australian animal is known to use its feces to mark its territory.
A wombat produces 80 to 100 cubes of poop every night, but it’s not the quantity what puzzled scientists. The cubed-shaped poop is produced only by wombats. Scientists did not discover any other animals that are able to do this, and they couldn’t explain the phenomena.
Solving the mystery
The team of researchers was led by Patricia Yang, from the Georgia Institute of Technology. They managed to explain the mystery behind the cubed feces. They presented their discoveries at the 71st Annual Meeting of the American Physical Society’s Division of Fluid Dynamics in Atlanta which took place this Sunday.
“In the built world, cubic structures are created by extrusion or injection molding, but there are few examples of this feat in nature,” said the authors of the project, explaining why cube shapes rarely occur naturally.
The scientists discovered that two weeks are needed for the wombat to digest its food. It appears that when the feces reach the final 8% of the intestine, it transforms into a solid matter. This is the part when the cubes appear.
Apparently, the intestine walls stretch unevenly for wombats and this is what allows cube shapes to form. “The local strain varies from 20% at the cube’s corners to 75% at its edges. Thus, the intestine stretches preferentially at the walls to facilitate cube formation,” explained the researches.
These findings are not just interesting. The authors of the study believe that their discovery might be used for other purposes as well, including the development of manufacturing techniques.