During a presentation of their findings at the 71st Annual Meeting of the American Physical Society’s Division of Fluid Dynamics in Atlanta over the weekend, Yang and her team revealed that the wombat’s odd-shaped feces are a result of a unique digestive tract. Studying the internal organs of an injured wombat that had to be euthanized, they learned that during the two weeks(?!) that it takes for the Australian marsupial to digest food, the fecal matter remains in a liquid state until it reaches the last eight percent of the intestines.
It’s in that last stretch that the droppings become solid and the cubes are formed. Inflating the wombat’s intestines with a balloon showed an uneven stretching of the organ system. If you think of it like an assembly line, the uneven intestines act like a perfectly-timed cutter at the end of an extruder, chopping between 80 and 100 pieces every night and then pushing them out.
We’re not exactly sure what impact this new information will have on our lives – but, then again, some of the world’s greatest inventions started out as something totally different. Maybe hundreds of years from now, what we now know about wombat poop will finally help us see and feel dark matter.
In the meantime? Well… Here’s a song about it, because there truly is something for everyone on the internet.