Averaging 90-115 cm (35-45 in.) in weight, the typical wombat is the largest burrowing mammal and the second largest marsupial. The wombat is a rare sight in the wild due to its solitary, nighttime nature.
Patricia Yang, an award-winning scientist who studies the complexities of bodily fluids, has seen her fair share of cows spilling watery pies, mice dropping small pellets, and elephants having to pass big balls of feces.
Wombat in the Wild and Deep Dive into Everything about this marsupial
The common wombat (Vombatus ursinus), which has a bare nose, is the most numerous and widely distributed of the three species. Hairy noses, smoother fur, and wider ears differentiate the northern hairy-nosed (Lasiorhinus krefftii) from the southern hairy-nosed (Lasiorhinus latifrons).
This big, stocky mammal is a marsupial, or pouched, creature that can be encountered in Australia and on outlying islands. The wombat, like other marsupials, gives birth to young that crawl into a pouch on their mother’s abdomen. Until emergence, a baby spends about five months in its mother’s pouch. The young animal will sometimes crawl back into the pouch after leaving it to nurse or to avoid risk. A young wombat will take care of itself by the age of seven months.
The feces of the Australian mammal are shaped like small dark cubes, making them the world’s only prismatic poops. These creatures are the only animals scientists have discovered that can naturally grow cubes, and we had no clue how they did it for a looooong period.
If You Smeeelllllll What the Marsupial is Cooking!
Yang eventually got her hands on a bare-nosed Vombatus Ursinus intestine in 2018. The gut went from muddy material to a hard six-sided construct with sharp corners, much like a “grotesque Christmas decoration.” These cubes seemed to be forming well before the marsupial pooped them out. Further CT scans of a live adult wombat revealed that it does not have a square-shaped anus; it is round like that of other species, leaving the issue of how wombats excrete blocks unanswered.
It turns out that everything is in the intestine. Yang and her colleagues have worked out how wombats actually evacuate #2 prisms when using two new dissections and mathematical models. That the very first thing you should note is that the intestine of this animal may be up to nine meters long. These metre-long creatures take many times longer than humans to consume all of the nutrients and water from their food, often up to five days.
Some of the tissue and muscle had varying degrees of thickness and stiffness, according to the researchers. Different muscle thickness caused parts of the intestine’s diameter to contract differently. The tight parts condensed rapidly, driving the poo harder, while the softer parts condensed slowly, moulding the corners.
The six-sided arrangement of this particular marsupial’s poo, according to one theory, allows for a wider surface area, which enhances the dispersal of the animal’s scent, which can transmit social signals or reproductive status.
It avoids contact with other of its kind and also leaves feces in prominent locations, such as atop or alongside tree stumps, logs, and rocks, as identification markers for any nearby animals. The cubic shape, like a pile of stone markings in the forest, can help these feces stay in place.