Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Putting The Squeeze On Evolutionary Theory

wombat
I am indebted to reader AnnieS for bringing this article to my attention, and where were the rest of y'all? Literally dozens of people must have known that wombats produced cubic poop and didn't tell me. Don't hold it in, people. Cubic poops are the building blocks of a blog post, at the least. Add a plumb bob, a level and a vat of Febreze, and you've got yourself a domicile.

Wombat poop looks like the squared-off chunks from the larger size Tootsie Rolls of my youth. Tootsie Rolls didn't taste all that great, but they were cheap and didn't taste all that great for a long long time, and I speculate that the same could be said for wombat poop. If all goes well, we shall never know. But why, you might ask, do wombats crank out cubes in the first place?

wombat poop
The prevailing theory includes the observation that many animals poop to mark their territory. According to this scenario, some among the early wombattery noticed that turds with corners did not roll away, and they popped them out on rocks and logs like heads on a pike, proclaiming: keep out, this is my space. I would argue that this is at best a secondary reason to poop, but it has merit. I used to do the same thing with used Kleenex and toenail clippings when I had roommates. Also, the wombat can be confident his crap will remain where he left  it, and can easily follow them to find his way home. Since he snaps off 80-100 dice a day, this can get him pretty far afield.

This theory implies that without boxy poop, all the wombats in a given population trying to find their way home via the process of elimination might wind up bunched together in a ravine, or some other low spot. I see a number of problems with this.  For one, I have never noticed that shit in general does a lot of rolling. It's sticky. I have counted on this very property of shit over the years, as one who can only find the direction of a slope in the woods by observing which of my feet gets wet when I pee. Also, you can roll dice. Especially in craps.

constipated wombat
It's hard to squeeze out a solid evolutionary advantage to cube-pooping. Wombats do take fourteen days to digest their food, so that suggests a certain amount of backup, and their posteriors are made of cartilage. There is much to indicate that squaring up one's poop takes a toll.

Whatever the reason, somebody has found a market in paper made of wombat poop. It is dense and fibrous, and, after all, it's already square, but I suspect that the original innovator got the idea because of the poop's stay-puttedness. "Look," our inventor said, a dim light bulb going off over his head, "it's stationary." This is the kind of thing you get in the spell-check generation, and also explains why so many little asses are running boroughs in New York City.

baby wombat
Speaking of burrows, which we almost were, that is where wombats live. They are excellent excavators, spending a lot of time pointed downwards with their bony rears in the air. Being marsupials, they carry their young in a pouch for six to seven months, while they tell them how smart and talented they are. They come back later after they spend some time in the real world and discover no one else wants to buy their drawings. The pouches are installed backwards, so dirt doesn't get in them while the mama wombat digs into her burrow. This situation puts the little ones at risk of falling out when she goes back uphill, but fortunately, baby wombats are square. They don't go anywhere.

All of this is a lot to ask natural selection to account for. The alternative is to postulate that God, by the eighteenth or nineteenth day, just flang out a bony-assed fuzzy critter that carries its young in a pocket with a view of its own butt and likes to produce geometrically pleasing turds on rocks, just for the pure hell of it. I'm a science girl, but I'm going with Number Two. That's sure what I'd do.

53 comments:

  1. I reckon by that time She was getting pretty good idea how some of her late work was going to turn out, and was desperate for new designs. "Maybe the round turds are where I went wrong?"

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  2. Don't mean to toot my own horn (does "toot" get credit for almost being a poop joke?), but I revealed the cause of God's more peculiar creatures back in June.

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  3. Personally I think god did his best work after he got all the other shit out of the way.

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  4. I'm thinkin' a needle, string, and a bit of that shiny, varnish-e stuff and Voila! A necklace for the old bat down the strret who keeps throwing stuff at the homeless cats wandering the neighborhood... I could spend the remainder of the winter snickering... OK, so I have a dark side..... :}

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  5. I think perhaps the secret formula for Tootsie Rolls has just been revealed to the blog world.

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  6. "It's hard to squeeze out a solid evolutionary advantage to cube-pooping."

    LOVE IT! Nicely done.

    However, I will never be able to look at a Tootsie Roll that same way again. Plus, I don't know if I should lick any more envelopes. Talk about tounge-in-cheek...

    In the spirit of poop exchange, I always thought that the reason a turd was tapered at both ends was so that you butthole wouldn't slam shut.

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  7. Frank and Ellen are definitely on to something. And Entre Nous, everybody loves a clunky necklace. Your friend may be an old bat, but I'm right there with her on the throwing stuff at cats. It's a bird thing.

    laytonwoman, the Tootsie Roll formula is no secret. We were making bad jokes about them in third grade. We just hadn't put it together with the wombats.

    The CDM is correct about turd tapering. Anyone not producing tapered turds is doing it wrong. I discussed this in an early post.

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  8. I have a jug of biodiesl-generation waste on my back porch. I'd love to soak some of this wombat poop in it and watch it burn. These look just like perfect little firestarters to me.

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  9. As long as you're waxing ecstatic on geometrically shaped poop, why not talk about the perfect spheres that bunnies produce or the little ovals that deer crank out? What's up with that? And how do bunnies know which poop to eat and which to leave lie? Bunnies being imperfect ruminants, who rechew their food.

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  10. I went to the link you had before I read your whole post and I just knew --JUST KNEW I say-- that you would be all over that square poop detail.
    I just know there's something really clever to say here, but I can't think of it. After you talked about square poop, boney butts, and all--not much left to pun about.

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  11. I'm still puzzling how one could get a "square peg through a round hole", but then answering those important questions is what science is for.

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  12. LOL! First photo of wombat poop I've ever seen, online or anywhere! And those darling little babies. If I didn't have a cat I might want to get one.

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  13. If you'd like to follow this up with a post on another Australian marsupial...I can send you pictures of possums' poo.Looks just like coffee beans!

    And maybe someone should tell Linda Myers that wombats have sharp teeth and claws.

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  14. Plus they're HUGE. And with the bony butts I don't think they're really lap wombat material.

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  15. I think that THIS is the funniest line: "...trying to find their way home via the process of elimination ..." and thought I'd mention it since no one else has...

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  16. This information won't affect my nonexistent Tootsie Roll eating, but how is it going to affect my relationship with brownies? Mine look just like that when they stay in the oven a bit too long. I can just see my brownie-related memory neurons reaching out and zapping on at the same time as the wombat poop neurons. But I suspect chocolate trumps everything.

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  17. Be of good cheer. Nothing in my research confirmed or refuted that wombat poop is anything other than tasty.

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  18. I didn't just laugh while I was reading this post, I hooted! That's southern for laughing really loud with your mouth wide open.

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  19. As a kid, I used to play with the tootsie roll before chewing it up, frequently opting for the cube shape which was, after all, not too far from its manufactured shape. I wonder if I was somehow channeling a wombat spirit...

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  20. Those turds remind me horribly of the nutritious, organic, jolly-good-for-you loaves on sale in local health-food shops. I wonder where they get the ingredients?

    Fourteen days to digest their food? Holy mackerel, I'm surprised there's anything left after their intestines have been sucking it all up for that long.

    How do you get a square peg through a round hole? Brilliant.

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  21. No day goes without light. Sometimes you don't quite know just how you're going to apply the knowledge but there will come a time when I can pull out this dazzling square wombat poo stuff. Maybe at the President's Christmas party at the Uni next week....

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  22. Uh, Murr, do you have citations where the tastiness of W.P. was discussed at all?

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  23. I grew up around wombies, they're beautiful.

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  24. Two Nicks! This could be confusing. I will have to be Nick R as opposed to Nick T....

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  25. Right. No duplicate names, and please, everybody, try to comment in alphabetical order. Nick is in a position to have actual information--that makes me nervous.

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  26. You have just given Lady Gaga an idea for her dress at the next music awards.

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  27. Forget the turds. What is that person doing in the last photo to that baby wombat?

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  28. Oh my. I've always enjoyed Tootsie Rolls - until about two minutes ago! Too damn funny.

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  29. Thanks for the scoop on the poop Murr. Hilarious

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  30. Cowango: you have to tickle them to square them up.

    B.J.: Oh my. And after Lady Gaga dons the wombat dress, the only thing left for her to do is wombat meat. I miss the Temptations.

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  31. Wombat turds---and I admit this entire conversation makes me a bit uncomfortable---were completely new to me until today. And I admit that they are wonderous to behold. Well, not exactly wonderous. But they are quite interesting if you can get your mind past the fact that they're poop. We're talking about fecal matter here, folks! Crap. Offal. Shit. The stinky by-product of stomach acids and bacteria. Surely there are weightier subjects to discuss than effluent.

    Perhaps not.

    Regardless, it seems very strange that a living creature can poop cubes. I get round, cylindrical, tapered, lumpy and runny, but cubed is truly puzzling. To achieve this feat, I can only assume (given that I don't want to look it up) that the wombat's intestinal tract slowly kneads the shit into rectangles and then extruds them through a chopper, or what you might call a wombat bagel slicer.

    This may be the best argument I've heard yet for the role of a creator in the formation of life. Or for the ability of an infinite universe to produce objects that seem designed to the naked eye but are, in fact, completely random.

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  32. I didn't know this. The poops look a lot like the chocolate calcium chewies I take and I'm suddenly very, very worried.

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  33. Keep taking them, secretagentwoman. Calcium is excellent for maintaining a bony rear.

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  34. I needed a good laugh, and I got it. Thanks, everyone.

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  35. Ha! My rear is the least bony part of me.

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  36. This just in. There are actual reindeer poop jewelry on sale online, just in time for the holidays. Or maybe you knew this already.

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  37. For the woman who has everything but shitty jewelry.

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  38. Actually, I didn't know that a Wombat was an actual critter. I thought it was the punch line of a joke or something. And if someone told me they pooped square...I would stand there saying, "I don't get the joke."

    Damn, it took me sixty-five years to learn this.

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  39. "it's stationary" -- *snerk*

    You've outdone yourself on this one, Murr -- what a fun read!!

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  40. I've been meaning to drop by. I was rewriting my resume - done for the moment - and sending out cover letters. Not as much fun as blogging.

    I wanted to thank you for your breakthrough article on Wombat poop, worthy of publication in the Anals of History of Marsupial Meadow Muffins. I'd definitely prefer a stationary slab of wombat crap to the scattered poop pellets that deer squeeze onto my lawn. They definitely roll.

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  41. I didn't know this. The poops look a lot like the chocolate calcium chewies I take and I'm suddenly very, very worried.

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  42. As a kid, I used to play with the tootsie roll before chewing it up, frequently opting for the cube shape which was, after all, not too far from its manufactured shape. I wonder if I was somehow channeling a wombat spirit...

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  43. Thanks for the scoop on the poop Murr. Hilarious

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  44. I'm still puzzling how one could get a "square peg through a round hole", but then answering those important questions is what science is for.

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  45. "It's hard to squeeze out a solid evolutionary advantage to cube-pooping."

    LOVE IT! Nicely done.

    However, I will never be able to look at a Tootsie Roll that same way again. Plus, I don't know if I should lick any more envelopes. Talk about tounge-in-cheek...

    In the spirit of poop exchange, I always thought that the reason a turd was tapered at both ends was so that you butthole wouldn't slam shut.

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  46. I'm thinkin' a needle, string, and a bit of that shiny, varnish-e stuff and Voila! A necklace for the old bat down the strret who keeps throwing stuff at the homeless cats wandering the neighborhood... I could spend the remainder of the winter snickering... OK, so I have a dark side..... :}

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  47. "shit in general does a lot of rolling.It's sticky" Wombat poop is some of the driest in the world. It would not stick. Also, consider this: if a long time ago during a cold winter wombat were unable to find their burrows and died because their feces rolled away, and some wombats had a genetic mutation that made them produce cubic poop that did not roll away, who would survive to reproduce and pass on their genes? Over time the cube poop would prevail.

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  48. I consider it an honor of some kind to have among my readers personages who know how dry a wombat turd is.

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