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Sun Nov 18, 2018, 07:29 PM

A shoe-in for the Ig Nobels: Scientists unravel secret of cube-shaped wombat faeces

Why the pudgy marsupials might benefit from six-faced faeces is generally agreed upon: wombats mark their territorial borders with fragrant piles of poo and the larger the piles the better. With die-shaped dung, wombats boost the odds that their droppings, deposited near burrow entrances, prominent rocks, raised ground and logs, will not roll away. That, at least, is the thinking.

But quite how the animals produce the awkward-shaped blocks – and they can pass up to 100 per night, presumably with some trepidation – has proved a harder one to work out. Scientists who find themselves intrigued by the phenomena have made little progress beyond ruling out the nagging suspicion that the animals possessed square anuses.
...
Close inspection revealed that the wombat’s excrement solidified in the last 8% of the intestine, where the faeces built up as blocks the size of long and chunky sugar cubes. By emptying the intestines and inflating them with long modelling balloons, of the sort used to make balloon animals at children’s parties, the researchers measured how the tissue stretched in different places.

In work to be presented at a meeting of the American Physical Society’s fluid dynamics division in Georgia, the team explain how the last section of the wombat intestine does not stretch evenly, unlike the rest of the intestine. When measured around the circumference, some parts give more than others. This allows the intestine to deform in such a way that packs faeces into 2cm-wide cubes rather than the usual sausage shapes. The findings were buoyed up by tests on pig intestines which found no such irregularities in how those stretched.

https://www.theguardian.com/science/2018/nov/18/scientists-unravel-secret-of-cube-shaped-wombat-faeces

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Reply A shoe-in for the Ig Nobels: Scientists unravel secret of cube-shaped wombat faeces (Original post)
muriel_volestrangler Nov 2018 OP
Xipe Totec Nov 2018 #1
Sneederbunk Nov 2018 #2
3catwoman3 Nov 2018 #3
Stuart G Nov 2018 #4
muriel_volestrangler Sep 2019 #5
mahatmakanejeeves Sep 2019 #6

Response to muriel_volestrangler (Original post)

Sun Nov 18, 2018, 07:32 PM

1. They've found the A.R. gene nt

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Response to muriel_volestrangler (Original post)

Sun Nov 18, 2018, 08:51 PM

2. I hope they are right. Otherwise, there could be repercussions.

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Response to muriel_volestrangler (Original post)

Sun Nov 18, 2018, 09:03 PM

3. I must confess that this is a topic I never heard of.

Seems to be a rather narrow area of interest.

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Response to muriel_volestrangler (Original post)

Tue Nov 20, 2018, 02:37 PM

4. I have never heard of this either...so I will rec and kick this up to the top...

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Response to muriel_volestrangler (Original post)

Fri Sep 13, 2019, 12:13 PM

5. And the winner is ...

PHYSICS PRIZE [USA, TAIWAN, AUSTRALIA, NEW ZEALAND, SWEDEN, UK]
Patricia Yang, Alexander Lee, Miles Chan, Alynn Martin, Ashley Edwards, Scott Carver, and David Hu, for studying how, and why, wombats make cube-shaped poo.
REFERENCE: “How Do Wombats Make Cubed Poo?” Patricia J. Yang, Miles Chan, Scott Carver, and David L. Hu, paper presented at the 71st Annual Meeting of the APS Division of Fluid Dynamics, Abstract: E19.0000, November 18–20, 2018.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Patricia Yang, David Hu, Alexander Lee, Scott Carver, Ashley Edwards
NOTE: This the SECOND Ig Nobel Prize awarded to Patricia Yang and David Hu. They and two other colleagues shared the 2015 Ig Nobel Physics Prize, for testing the biological principle that nearly all mammals empty their bladders in about 21 seconds (plus or minus 13 seconds)

https://www.improbable.com/ig-about/the-2019-winners/

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Response to muriel_volestrangler (Reply #5)

Fri Sep 13, 2019, 12:30 PM

6. Another triumph for mechanical engineering:

Why is wombat poop cube-shaped?

Mechanical engineering in the news. If this ain't worth an Ig Nobel Prize, nothing is.

ANIMALS WEIRD & WILD

Why is wombat poop cube-shaped?

BY TIK ROOT

PUBLISHED NOVEMBER 19, 2018

Wombats are the only animals in the world that produce cube-shaped scat. But how and why do they do it? Scientists now have a better idea.

Wombats are a burrowing animal native to Australia perhaps best-known for being, well, pudgy—and quite cute. But there’s something you might not know about these adorable marsupials: Wombats are the only animals in the world that produce cube-shaped poop. ... While this peculiarity has sparked much interest and debate, actual research into the intricacies of wombat scat has been scant. That’s left scientists largely in the dark about the phenomenon – until recently.

Earlier this year, Patricia Yang, a researcher at the Georgia Institute of Technology who specializes in bodily fluids, started to look into the topic more closely after hearing about it at a conference. ... “I didn't really believe it,” Yang says. But after confirming that it is, indeed, a fact, she began trying to figure out why, and how, wombats poop in cubes.

“People have had all sorts of theories,” says Mike Swinbourne, a wombat expert at the University of Adelaide in Australia. One popular postulate is that wombats make cubes so that they can stack them to mark their territory, without the pieces rolling away. But Swinbourne says that’s a misconception.
....

Wombat poo is cube shaped so they can mark their territory with it but no one knows how they make their poo square #advancedwombattechnology



Not so fast, says wombat expert Mike Swinbourne.

SMARTNEWS Keeping you current

Why Wombats Make Cube-Shaped Poos

New research shows differences in elasticity in the intestines shapes the poo as it moves through



By Jason Daley
SMITHSONIAN.COM
NOVEMBER 20, 2018 6:00AM

As the children’s book Everyone Poos has taught us, creatures of all shapes and sizes create an array of poops, and they are all natural and okay. Well, maybe except for the wombat’s poop; something weird is going on there. The Australian marsupial pushes out little piles of cube-shaped poos, and naturalists and biologists have wondered for years how the round sinuous plumbing found in most animals could produce an end product that looks like it came from a brick factory.

A new study presented at the 71st Annual Meeting of the American Physical Society's Division of Fluid Dynamics in Atlanta over the weekend seems to have finally cracked the case. When Patricia Yang, a mechanical engineer at the Georgia Institute of Technology, learned about cubic wombat poo, she decided to figure out the mystery. She specializes in the hydrodynamics of bodily fluids, including food, urine and blood, but had never come across anything quite like the wombat cubes.

“The first thing that drove me to this is that I have never seen anything this weird in biology. That was a mystery,” she says in a press release. “I didn't even believe it was true at the beginning. I Googled it and saw a lot about cube-shaped wombat poop, but I was skeptical.”

To study the strange process that converts grasses into wombie cubes, Yang and her team acquired wombat intestinal tracts from animals in Tasmania that had to be euthanized after being struck by cars and began studying their unusual digestive systems.
....

The Ig Nobel Prize committee is already on it. Also, Patricia Yang may be a legacy winner:

A better-rounded understanding of why wombat poo is cubic

Ian Sample reports, in The Guardian, a new discovery by Ig Nobel Prize winners, about wombat poo shape:



Scientists unravel secret of cube-shaped wombat faeces
Researchers investigate why excrement emerges in awkward-shaped blocks

… “My curiosity got triggered when I realised that cubical feces exist,” said Patricia Yang pictured below], a postdoctoral fellow in mechanical engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. “I thought it was not true in the first place.”

In a new study, Yang and her colleagues have had a fresh crack at the problem. To gain new insights into the mystery, they studied the digestive tracts of common wombats that had been put to sleep after being struck by cars and trucks on roads in Tasmania.

Close inspection revealed that the wombat’s excrement solidified in the last 8% of the intestine, where the faeces built up as blocks the size of long and chunky sugar cubes. By emptying the intestines and inflating them with long modelling balloons, of the sort used to make balloon animals at children’s parties, the researchers measured how the tissue stretched in different places….

The first public presentation happened today, at the annual meeting of the American Physical Society.



Urination Duration

The 2015 Ig Nobel Prize for physics was awarded to Patricia Yang, David Hu, and Jonathan Pham, Jerome Choo, for testing the biological principle that nearly all mammals empty their bladders in about 21 seconds (plus or minus 13 seconds).

The urine-duration research is documented in the study “Duration of Urination Does Not Change With Body Size,” Patricia J. Yang, Jonathan Pham, Jerome Choo, and David L. Hu, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 111 no. 33, August 19, 2014, pp. 11932–11937.

David Hu, and some of the research done by him Patricia Yang and their colleagues, was profiled a few days ago in the New York Times.

Cat Tongues?

And from the same lab: Alexis Noel’s experiments with understanding cat tongues: “Got Your Cat Tongue?



Posted by Marc Abrahams on Sunday, November 18th, 2018 at 7:32 pm under Arts and Science, Boys Will Be Boys, Ig Nobel, Research News.

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