Finally, the answer to the question that’s been causing you to have so many sleepless nights: Why do wombats produce cube-shaped feces? In case you’re not up to speed on the bowel movements of this Australian marsupial, wombats make as many as 100 deposits a night, for the purpose of marking their territory, and the square shape keeps it from rolling away. Now, at last, we know the science behind it all.
On Sunday, researchers revealed that the cube shape is caused by the varied elasticity of wombat intestines. The research team’s findings were presented at the American Physical Society Division of Fluid Dynamics’ annual meeting after studying the digestive tracts of wombats who died due to road accidents in Tasmania. David Hu from Georgia Tech, one of the researchers, paints a colorful picture. “We opened those intestines up like it was Christmas,” he told Science News.
The team made the discovery by inserting a balloon into a dead wombat’s digestive tract, and noted how the tract stretched to fit the balloon. In the last eight percent of the intestine tracks, the walls’ elasticity changed to shape its content into cubes.
Once expelled, the wombat then stacks the cubes as a means of communication with other wombats. This fascinating phenomenon is unique to wombats — there are no other known animals whose poop resembles a cube.