Cubic stool in the uterus bowel. Credit: P. Yang and D. Hu / Georgia TechWombats, the chubby and beloved, short-legged…
Cubic stool in the uterus bowel. Credit: P. Yang and D. Hu / Georgia Tech
Wombats, the chubby and beloved, short-legged buckles native to Australia, are central to a biological mystery in the animal kingdom: How do they produce cube-shaped poop? Patricia Yang, a postdoctoral in mechanical engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology, decided to investigate.
Yang studies the hydrodynamics of liquids, including blood, processed food and urine, in the bodies of animals. She was curious about how the differences in wombat’s digestive processes and soft tissue structures can explain their strangely designed scat.
During the American Physical Society’s Division of Fluid Dynamics 71
th Annual Meeting, which will take place 18-20 November 18 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Georgia, Yang and her co-authors, Scott Carver, David Hu and PhD student Miles Chan , will explain their results from dissecting digestive systems or digestive tracts of wombats.
“The first thing that led me to this is that I have never seen anything so strange in biology. It was a mystery,” said Yang. “I did not even think it was true at first. I googled it and saw a lot about cube-shaped wombat poop, but I was skeptical. “
Yang and her co-authors studied the wombats digestive tracts that had been killed after motor vehicle collisions in Tasmania, Australia. Carver, the biologist and the Australian counterpart to the group of American mechanical engineers, delivered the wombat intestines.
At the end of the intestines, they found that stools changed from liquid to solid state consisting of small separated cubes. The group concluded that the varying elastic properties of wombat’s intestinal walls allow for killing.
In the built-in The world is cubic structures, sugar bits, sculptures and architectural properties common and produced by injection molding or extrusion. However, cubes are rare in the natural world. Currently, wombats is the only known species that can produce cubes organically.
“We currently have just two methods r to manufacture cubes: we murmur it or we cut it. Now we have the third method, “says Yang.” It would be a cool method of applying to the manufacturing process, how to make a cube of soft tissue instead of just casting it. “
So why do wombats poop bits? Wombats stacks stools to mark their home areas and communicate with each other through fragrance. They stack stools in prominent places (eg beside holes, or on logs, rocks, and small elevations) because they have poor eyesight. The higher and more prominent the stack of feces, the more visual distinction is to attract other wombats to smell and engage in communication. Therefore it is important that their drips do not roll away, and cube-shaped poop solves this problem.
Yang hopes that the group’s research on wombats will contribute to current understanding of soft tissue transport or how the intestines move. She also emphasized that the group’s research involved mechanical engineering and biology , and their results are valuable for both areas. “We can learn from Wombats and hopefully apply this new method to our manufacturing process,” said Yang. “We can understand how we move these things in a very efficient way.”
Carver added: “There is a great public interest from the public, both in Australia and internationally, about how and why wombats create cube-shaped stools. Ideas that are more entertaining than others have been presented to explain this, but To this study, no one has ever investigated the cause. It has been a fantastic collaboration showing the value of interdisciplinary research to create new scientific discoveries. “
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Presentation E19.1, “How does wombat’s cube poo?” by Patricia J. Yang, Miles Chan, Scott Carver and David L. Hu, will be Sunday, November 18, 5:10 pm. in room B306 of the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta. Abstract: meetings.aps.org/Meeting/DFD18/Session/E19.1