Image of the Day: Wombat Poop
Image of the Day: Wombat Poop

Image of the Day: Wombat Poop

The Australian marsupials excrete cube-shape turds thanks to the elastic properties of the intestinal walls.

Jef Akst
Jef Akst

Jef Akst is managing editor of The Scientist, where she started as an intern in 2009 after receiving a master’s degree from Indiana University in April 2009 studying the mating behavior of seahorses.

View full profile.


Learn about our editorial policies.

Nov 26, 2018

ABOVE: PHOTO BY P. YANG AND D. HU/GEORGIA TECH

Examinations of wombats’ digestive tracts reveal that the elastic properties of the ends of their large intestines are capable of turning liquid excrement into cubical scat, according to a study presented this month at the annual meeting of the American Physical Society’s Division of Fluid Dynamics in Atlanta, Georgia.

“We currently have only two methods to manufacture cubes: We mold it, or we cut it. Now we have this third method,” coauthor Patricia Yang, a postdoc at the Georgia Institute of Technology, says in a press release. “It would be a cool method to apply to the manufacturing process—how to make a cube with soft tissue instead of just molding it.”

As for why wombats poop cubes, researchers suspect the shape allows the animals to pile their feces next to their burrows and in other places to signal their...

Common wombat (Vombatus ursinus tasmaniensis) on Maria Island, Tasmania, Australia
WIKIMEDIA, JJ HARRISON

Interested in reading more?

The Scientist ARCHIVES

Become a Member of

Receive full access to more than 35 years of archives, as well as TS Digest, digital editions of The Scientist, feature stories, and much more!
Already a member?