We here at Cracked take pride in our research department's ability to find the most mundane things and figure out how they changed the world, and also to make as many poop jokes in a 2,000-word article as is humanly possible. Delight in the head-on collision between the two as we discuss how poop has managed to change the world in utterly profound ways.
6Poop Is the Reason Complex Life Evolved
Millions and millions of years ago, evolution was in a bit of a slump. The Earth, instead of the blue planet bustling with life that it is today, was just some overheated rock with a lot of single-celled bacteria floating around. Evolution remained at a standstill for some three billion years, until getting suddenly jump-started by a process that has always mystified scientists.
Well, according to Australian geoscientist Graham Logan, the miracle that came along to cause the planet to explode with life was shit.
"We've been telling you this for years, sheeple."
Or specifically, the first creatures capable of shitting.
The problem, Logan says, was that at the time the oceans were very low on oxygen (i.e., the stuff pretty much every non-plant on Earth breathes) and very high in carbon. It just wasn't a mix that was conducive to a thriving ecosystem.
"Fuck you, ocean! I'm sick of your shit!"
But then came the shitters. These multicellular creatures could eat plankton and, more importantly, poop out dense turds of carbon that promptly sank to the ocean floor. Over millions of years, they turned the upper sunlit levels of the oceans from a carbon-rich dead zone into an oxygen-rich life factory that gave birth to the entire ecosystem we now know and love.
All thanks to this army of tiny, heroic shit machines.
"And that's why what I'm doing in the swimming pool is perfectly normal, Cheryl."
But poop's work in the ocean would hardly be finished ...
5Poop Saves the Ocean's Ecosystem
Here's a difficult question: What makes the ocean work? If you said "poop," then that's great, you're already familiar with the premise of this article. If you said specifically "whale poop," then ... um ... spoiler alert in the header image!
But that is what whale biologist Joe Roman believes. According to his recent study, the very basis of the ocean's ecosystem relies directly on whale shit to function. As it turns out, the anal-bullets of whales have all the necessary nutrients (such as nitrogen and iron) needed to support marine life.
Everything on this diagram would make an awesome name for your prog rock band.
Previously, it was assumed that all the microorganisms took care of that, but Roman's study found that those microorganisms couldn't exist without the titanic dump flotillas whales produce. There simply isn't any other source in the ocean that provides the necessary nutrients in abundance. No other creature takes shits that size.
OK, but how often does he go swimming in the deep ocean?
But that's not all. Another study into whale poop (yes, as it happens there are several) found that it was also crucial to controlling global warming. Scientists discovered that sperm whale shit alone had the ability to draw down 440,000 tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and into the ocean, sort of like air scrubbers made of pure excrement. Then that carbon gets feasted on by millions of plankton, and the plankton get eaten by the whales, and the whole process starts all over. Boom, circle of life.
We're pretty sure Elton John wrote a song about it.
In fact, researchers say that if we weren't hunting whales so much (ahem Japan), their shit could remove 2.2 million tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Whale poop is essentially keeping the ocean, and the whole goddamn planet, clean.