The 6 Most Insane Pooping Strategies Dreamt Up By Evolution
As anyone who's ever read the timeless classic Everybody Poops is already aware, the world is a reckless, whirling maelstrom of animal feces. That's because Mother Nature has seen fit to institute the "If you put something in, something worse is gonna come out" rule as standard policy among nearly all living things. But it's not always a simple matter of walking in a circle three times, grunting while looking around sheepishly, and unloosing your bowels. Sometimes it gets downright bonkers, like when ...
So Much Penguin Crap Accumulates That It's Visible From Space
We've all learned from documentaries and mediocre animated features that penguins congregate in absurd numbers when it's time to get their egg on. We also know, from that time we left our car parked under a tree over the weekend, that birds can produce an equally absurd amount of shit. Well, turns out that when these two forces of nature team up, it can produce a feculent stain on the landscape that's actually visible from space.
Crappy Feet would have been the more accurate title.
The penguins actually found a way to make that wanton crapulence work for them, though. Their incessant turd production helps to melt the surrounding snow so that the ground is suitable for nesting. It's not just the direct contact that does it -- the contrast of brown-on-white absorbs heat from the sun faster than the surrounding snow. They seem to have it down to something of a science, too, as you can see sort of a pattern forming in this bit of time-lapse filthiness:
Also known as "Satan's Slurpee."
But as unsanitary as all that is, the penguins nonetheless don't want to wallow in their own sardine squeezings any more than they have to. So, they came up with another handy adaptation for when they're stuck in one spot for lengthy periods: projectile feces. In one of the most critically important uses of research grant money of all time, a study called "Pressures Produced When Penguins Pooh -- Calculations On Avian Defecation" found that certain penguins have developed an extraordinary ability to launch their dook with enough gastrointestinal force to send it well clear of their developing eggs. That's certainly a handy skill for the bird that's trying to keep its own area tidy, but what about the unfortunate neighboring penguin, seal, or wildlife photographer at the other end of the hepatitis trajectory?
The "splash zone" at the penguin exhibit isn't nearly as fun as the one at the killer whale show.
Hippos Can Use Their Ass Like A Snowblower
Hippos are considered some of the most dangerous animals in Africa, and not just because they can kill you in a variety of snap-you-in-half, skewer-you-like-a-cocktail-weenie sorts of ways. Just standing behind one of these immense beasts can be hazardous in and of itself, because they do this:
Mother Nature's version of the shit hitting the fan.
It's spectacularly gross, to the point that you'd almost think it was malicious. However, hippos have a good reason for whirlygigging their tails like mini propellers and spraying feces around in the fashion of an exploding colostomy bag: It's the most efficient way of marking their territory. Their colonic snowblower routine can send shit flying as far as two meters in every direction.
The monkeys in the enclosure next door can only look on in solemn admiration.
Usually, it's only the male hippopotamuses that put on such rectally extravagant displays. The females and the calves content themselves with defecating profusely around and straight into the water in which they live. Apart from nauseating the crocodiles, this also serves the purpose of returning important restorative nourishment to the aquatic food chain. For special occasions, though, the females may take part in a "dung showering" of their own -- when a lady hippo gets excited by a male's whirlypoops during mating season, she'll return the favor and express her interest very directly. As in, by shitting all over his face.
Something tells us they didn't meet on ChristianMingle.com.
Koalas Feed Their Babies Butt Paste
Koalas sure are some cute little bastards. That's pretty much their entire selling point, and their cubs multiply the cuteness by a factor of about "squee!" When you see a mommy koala caring for her fuzzy wee one, it's just so goddamn adorable that even the most hardened OH GOD IS THAT NASTY THING SUCKING ON A BUTTHOLE?
If you can't tell what's going on here, consider yourself lucky.
No, these particular koalas haven't spent too much time in captivity at a Berlin fetish zoo -- this is, in fact, part of the weaning process that all of them go through. You see, since high-in-fiber eucalyptus leaves (which are just about all koalas eat) are difficult for their babies to digest, mother koalas do some of that heavy intestinal lifting for them. Other animals deal with this sort of issue by vomiting up a pre-prepared meal, but the koala mom goes one repugnant step further -- she excretes a specialized substance "similar to feces" straight from her poop chute, which has all the nutrients a growing cub needs. Then the cub eats that shit up. Literally.
We were gonna embed a video here, but we'll just leave these comments for the same effect.
This steamy substance, so rich in digestive microbes and bacteria, is absolutely vital to a koala's development. For (presumably the few willing) human foster parents charged with caring for an orphaned cub, not only is a bottle of milk required, but also a source for a regular supply of donor crap. The unsavory activities of these ass-to-mouth-loving marsupials were first reported in 1933, with the following overly detailed observation by one Keith Minchin:
Wait, no, this is a complaint on Walmart's Facebook page. Sorry.
It's truly an amazing adaptation, and it's a testament to their ability to survive in a harsh environment. And it also might go a long way in explaining why 90 percent of the entire koala population in some areas is stricken with chlamydia.
Wombats Poop Cubes To Mark Territory
If you've ever suddenly altered your diet to include more in the way of fresh vegetables and leafy greens, you know what a trying ordeal visits to the bathroom can temporarily become. But unless you were raised by negligent board-game enthusiasts, odds are you've never had to go through what wombats must endure -- they are doomed to pass, during every bowel movement conducted over the course of their lives, the colonic equivalent of a Rubik's Cube.
Poobik's, if you will.
The reason wombats deliver angular-yet-malleable ass dice, as opposed to the more popular pellet or missile-based productions, is simple: It prevents their poop from rolling away. Like many creatures, they demarcate their territory by way of shitting on things, and an emission that stays firmly in place is preferable in terms establishing non-contestable boundaries. Being able to create poop with the properties of a cinder block allows them to plant their "deposition events" on raised surfaces (usually at the precise height of a wombat's nose), so they can better announce to the world the presence of a giant, waddling gopher-thing with a bewilderingly formidable sphincter.
Australian rainbows are also a lot less beautiful than they sound.
Since wombats are nocturnal and cursed with poor eyesight, it makes sense that much of their communication would come by way of the pungency inherent in their manure. Which, since we're sure you're curious, is said to possess a "shiny, mucus-covered surface and a strong, sweet, peaty smell." As for the mechanics behind their blocky expulsions? That remains a mystery to science. Please don't let that prevent you from training your dog to crap in festive shapes to spread a little cheer around the neighborhood this holiday season.
Vultures Soil Themselves To Stay Cool
Most people have an instinctive revulsion to vultures, as their ghastly looks and penchant for putrescent corpse-nibbling can make things uncomfortable in polite social situations. But since vultures don't sweat to regulate their temperature like we do, at least excessive B.O. isn't among their disgusting traits, right? Nope, the way they make up for a lack of sweat glands is far worse -- they'll piss and shit all over themselves at every available opportunity.
A little shame is easy to overcome when you're basically immune
from ever being the main course at holiday dinners.
The technical term for how some species of vultures purposely befoul their own legs with excrement is "urohidrosis," which sounds like the grossest Pokemon. As said excrement evaporates, it effectively does the job of cooling them down after a hot day spent de-fleshing a rotting antelope. To complete the whole unsettling package, some species will also pant like a dog while defecating and urinating on themselves up to 10 times per hour. Oh, and vultures aren't the only birds who do this: It's basically an option for any species with long, featherless legs and a complete lack of decorum.
We all know that story about storks is a myth, so don't try blaming it on the babies.
However, vultures in particular have a diet that's so abhorrent, bacteria and disease are a constant threat. Luckily, their digestive juices are just as noxious as the carcasses they're wading in, so having a steady supply of intestinal blowouts running down their legs actually works like a built-in sanitizing pump. So, should you ever find yourself crawling across the dunes of the Sahara hopelessly searching for water, at least you'll know those birds circling overhead will be as sanitary as possible while they're shitting on your bones and picking them literally clean.
Sloths Die Constantly Just So They Can Poop On The Ground
Sloths are such incredibly useless creatures that it can take them hours (along with some occasional police intervention) just to haul themselves across a simple two-lane road. But what is it that makes them leave the safety of their trees in the first place? A sense of adventure? An elaborate, sensual mating ritual? The sad reality of the situation is that they just come down once a week or so to poop.
Sometimes, the satisfaction in growling out a well-earned public deuce is its own reward.
It's a slow, laborious process: They'll pick a place, dig a hole, drop up to a third of their entire body weight in one prodigious load, and then carefully cover up the evidence. Researchers used to believe this habit was merely the sloths' way of being discreet so as to avoid attention from predators ... which would be a pretty stupid strategy, seeing how pathetically vulnerable they are on the ground. In fact, more than half of all sloth deaths result from their being murdered while taking these long, sphincter-relieving treks.
Pictured: Elvis' spirit animal.
So why don't they just bomb the forest floor from above, like the rest of the vile arboreal denizens? The answer may be more complicated than you'd ever guess could come from something as dopey as a sloth. You see, these animals are so ridiculously torpid that algae can actually grow on them. This works out quite well, because the sloths always have something to nibble on, right there on their backs. Various bugs and fungi also take up residence in this "mobile ecosystem," as National Geographic describes it, and one particular species of moth has evolved to live nowhere else.
Probably because it's pretty easy to avoid a swat that takes 20 minutes to deliver.
These moths have their own part to play in keeping the sloths' back-hair salad bar up and running, and without them, the whole system might fall apart. However, to complete their life cycle, the moths need to lay their eggs in a safe place where there's plenty to eat. Which, it turns out, is a mound of steaming sloth plop. Some scientists believe that the seemingly unnecessary risk the sloths are taking by descending from the trees is actually their way of bringing their tiny partners closer to the best egg-laying locations, doing their part to maintain the repulsive organic co-op.
If you've ever eaten kale, this shouldn't gross you out in the slightest.
So it all makes perfect sense now! Well, except for the recently discovered development that sloths, while they're tortuously inching along on their prolonged toilet jaunts, have taken to making midnight raids on human settlements to pilfer and devour the contents of outdoor latrines. OK, maybe they're just poop-loving morons after all.
E. Reid Ross also writes about all sorts of animals at The Featured Creature, where he makes a more concerted attempt to disguise his visceral fear of all things that slither and creep.
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