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How do wombats make cubed poo?
conference contributionposted on 2023-05-24, 19:11 authored by Yang, PJ, Chan, M, Scott CarverScott Carver, Hu, DL
Wombats are fossorial herbivorous Australian marsupials with the distinctive feature of producing cubic feces, which is unique in the animal kingdom. In the built world, cubic structures are created by extrusion or injection molding, but there are few examples of this feat in nature. We investigate how wombats produce cubic feces, through investigation of the structure and mechanics of two dissected alimentary systems of wombats--derived from veterinary euthanized individuals following motor vehicle collisions in Tasmania, Australia. In the final 8 percent of the intestine, feces changed from a liquid-like state into a solid state composed of separated cubes of length 2 cm. This shape change was due to the azimuthally varying elastic properties of the intestinal wall. By emptying the intestine and inflating it with a long balloon, we found that the local strain varies from 20 percent at the cube's corners to 75 percent at its edges. Thus, the intestine stretches preferentially at the walls to facilitate cube formation. This study addresses the long-standing mystery of cubic scat formation and provides insight into new manufacturing techniques for non-axisymmetric structures using soft tissues.
Publication titleBulletin of the American Physical Society: Proceedings of the 71st Annual Meeting of the APS Division of Fluid Dynamics, 63 (13) BAPS.2018.DFD.E19.1
Department/SchoolSchool of Natural Sciences
PublisherAmerican Physical Society
Place of publicationUnited States
Event title71st Annual Meeting of the APS Division of Fluid Dynamics
Event VenueAtlanta, Georgia
Date of Event (Start Date)2018-11-18
Date of Event (End Date)2018-11-20