Of all the many mysteries that surround a common wombat, it is difficult to find as incomprehensible as its ability — widely recognized as unique in the natural world — to produce feces in the form of cubes.
Why plump marsupials can benefit from hexagonal feces, as a rule, agree: wombats mark their territorial boundaries with fragrant heaps of poo and the more piles, the better. With puppet dung, wombats increase the chances that their droppings, folded close to bursting holes, prominent stones, raised soil and logs, will not be denied. This is at least thinking.
But exactly how animals produce uncomfortable blocks — and they can go up to 100 per night, apparently with some trepidation — turned out to be harder to work with. Scientists who were intrigued by these phenomena made little progress, in addition to eliminating suspicious suspicion that the animals had square anus.
“My curiosity arose when I realized that there were cubic faeces,” said Patricia Yang, a machine trustee at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. "I thought it was not so in the first place."
In the new study, Young and her colleagues had a new problem. To gain insight into the secret, they studied the digestive tracts of common wombats who were euthanized after being hit by cars and trucks on roads in Tasmania.
A close inspection revealed that the wombat's excreta hardened in the last 8% of the intestines, where feces built up as blocks the size of long cubes of sugar cubes. By emptying the intestines and inflating them with long modeling balloons that were used to make balloons at children's parties, the researchers measured how the fabric stretches in different places.
In a paper that will be presented at a meeting at the Institute of Fluid Dynamics of the American Physical Society in Georgia, the team explains how the last part of the wombat’s intestine does not stretch evenly, unlike the rest of the intestine. When measured around the circumference, some parts produce more than others. This allows the intestines to deform in such a way that it contains feces in cubes 2 cm wide, and not the usual forms of sausage. The findings were supported by tests on the intestines of pigs, which did not find such violations in the way they were stretched.
“Wombat’s intestines are periodically stiff, which means hard soft hard softness along the circumference to form cubic faeces,” said Yang.
But the researchers have not finished the work. To produce a puo with a square cross-section, the circumference of the intestine will need four stretched areas, alternating with four rigid areas. Thus, the hard areas form flat faces, and the more elastic parts form the corners. Balloon tests revealed only three elastic parts and two more rigid ones. In the nearest work, scientists believe that other hard and elastic bits can manifest themselves only when they can inflate the intestines in a larger size. In other words, a little tense.
Yang believes that the revelation will have consequences outside of a small community of researchers who recognize the interest in scat wombat. Today, engineers have only two methods for making cubes: either casting or cutting them, she says. In the intestine of the wombat a third way is proposed. “It would be a cool method to use in the production process,” she said.
“We can learn from wombats and hopefully apply this new method to our manufacturing process. We can understand how to do this very effectively. ”