Assholes

Imagine if a hundred million years from now, an advanced species find Ted’s asshole (that was redundant) meticulously preserved in a mason jar on Trump’s dresser in Mar-a-lago. They describe it in detail and publish photographs of said asshole. Due to the paucity of pickled assholes, their entire understanding of human assholes is derived from Ted’s.

That’s almost exactly what happened to a large-dog sized sub-adult specimen of a Psittacosaurus that lived about 100 million years ago in north-eastern China. Scientists found a well preserved fossil of its asshole. In a recent publication, they first describe the general area of the asshole. Then comes the gem: “The darkly-pigmented tissue surrounding the vent is wrinkled, the creases of which are parallel and radiate from the vent in a posterolateral direction (∼3 cm long) towards the ventral tip of the third haemal arch.”

I love science. Imagine if that’s the the culmination of your life’s work. That one sentence in that one paper sets you up for tenure. Head of department doesn’t seem that far away suddenly. After all you were the very first to know for certain that a dinosaur’s asshole is dark and wrinkled! Scientists have theorized since birds and crocodiles are descendants of dinosaurs, and both have a type of asshole called a cloaca vent, that dinosaurs probably have similar plumbing. A cloaca vent is like an iPhone’s lightning port. It takes care of everything – poop, pee, and sex. Turns out that they are right. A dinosaur’s asshole is a cloacal vent and it somewhat more similar to a crocodile’s than a bird’s butthole.

Here is a photo of the poor dinosaur’s asshole lit up with lasers and a link to the paper but be warned that the the rest of it is boring. “The junior senator from great state of…blah blah blah”.

We often discuss the latest scientific breakthroughs over dinner. The other day, along with the dino asshole fossil, we chatted about wombats and their uniquely cube shaped poo. Here’s a photo that often shows up in google searches (I got this one from twitter where Trump can’t post his shit but wombats can). It shows cube shaped wombat poo on a used computer punched card (so what is the back-story here?). It has been theorized that because wombats use their poo to mark their territory, and because they live in hilly places, cubey poo is less susceptible to rolling away and easier to stack when compared to traditional poo, thus providing an evolutionary basis for the shape of their shit.

The simplistic reason something would shit cubes is because they have square assholes. But a quick check of wombat’s backsides showed that the simple answer was wrong (take that, Occam). Back in late 2018 (I somehow missed this important news till recently), researchers from Georgia Tech presented their findings at the American Physical Society Division of Fluid Dynamics’ annual meeting in Atlanta. They said that the elasticity of the walls of the last 8% of a wombat’s intestines varied dramatically, thereby making it possible for wombat poo to come out cubed. Researchers agreed that this may have valuable applications in manufacturing. Our dwellings on Mars may be made out of martian bricks made this way. But first we’ll need to fly a bunch of wombats to Mars. And may be Ted too.

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