Carnal Carnival #1 – Essentials of Elimination

It is a good thing that transmission of smells over the Web has not been worked out yet, as this carnival would unlikely be smelling of roses… This month’s topic of the Carnal Carnival is, as you may already have heard, poop. Yes, excretion, defecation, elimination and the resulting products. All things colonic.

The response by the blogosphere was amazing so the carnival is quite big. So fix yourself some coffee (and you may learn how and if that will affect your stool once you read some of these posts), relax (that is also important for the process) and enjoy (yes, it is supposed to be pleasure)!

DeLene Beeland, of Wild Muse, knows how informative animal poop is to ecologists when they play nature detectives: Divining the secrets of scat.

While DeLene focuses on exctracting DNA from poop, Michelle, of C6-H12-O6, takes a look at another important piece of information that both field and lab biologists can get from the dark stuff that wildlife leaves around: On detecting stress endocrines in hamster poop.

And sometimes, the poop animals leave around is not just tiny little droppings…. Just ask Alistair Dove, of Deep Type Flow – he took this picture: If you have to go, go big!

Coprolites! The fossilized poop hard as a rock (fortunately, after deposition). David Bressan, of History of geology, gives us a history of the scientific study of coprolites: Geology history in caricatures: A Coprolitic Vision.

Joseph Calamia, of Discoblog, then provides an example of the kind of knowledge one can gain by studying coprilites: Look at the Size of That Chinchilla Poop–to Know How Much It Rained

And if that is not enough, can you imagine how much one can learn by combining the study of coprolites and coprophagy?! Brian Switek, of Laelaps, describes one case just like that: Unique Fossils Record the Dining Habits of Ancient Sharks

Brian Switek is not done yet. An obsession, if you may. Another cool coprolite story: Fossil feces from an Indiana sinkhole preserve traces of a meat-eater’s meal

And Chris Nedin, of Ediacaran, discovers The World’s Oldest Poo.

[Giraffe droppings. Image from here]

Carla Davidson, of Mommiologist, asks: What’s in a baby poop? And then she answers her own question.

But what is in whose poop may differ with geography and diet. Mike the Mad Biologist explains why: Some Thoughts About the Statistics of the Human Microbiome

Some ingenuity, some clever bioengineering, and you can get your poop all colorful! Peggy Kolm, of Everyday Biology, explains how and why: E. chromi and The Scatalog

And sometimes, your poop needs to find a way back into you – The Lorax, of Angry By Choice, explains: Poop Transplants, Is Your Microbiota an Organ System.

And it is not just us – I (here at A Blog Around The Clock) remind you that Food goes through a rabbit twice. Think what that means!

It means some poo is soft and some poo is hard! Scicurious, of Neurotic Physiology, dissects a study that looked at various foods and drinks and how they affect the hardness (or liquidity) of one’s stool but got something very important wrong in their methodology: So, how would you say your poop FEELS today?

One can learn quite a lot about an animal, including about the physiology of its digestive system, by analyzing its poop. Zen Faulkes, of NeuroDojo, provides an excellent example: Nothing but the finest…feces.

Why do certain species of caterpillar fling their poop far and wide? I know you always wanted to know the answer to that question. The wait is over – Meera Lee Sethi, of Inkling Magazine, tells it all: Projectile Poop: Why Some Caterpillars Go Ballistic.

The Science Pundit starts out slowly, but builds up tension in a powerful crescendo of ever-increasing levels of disgust: More poop Mommy; I’m hungry!

[Koprolithen. Image from here]

Many people read books while sitting on the toilet. But some do the opposite! Christina Pikas, of Christina’s LIS Rant, collects librarians’ tall tales about their customers and what they do: Craptacular: stories of poop in the library!

And as books and toilets appear to have a deep historical connection, it is not surprising that there are also books about poop. And some bloggers decided to review them. Alice Bell reviews a few of them in Poo Books.

Todd Simmons, at Matter Daily, reviews Holy Shit: A Book Review.

Finally, John F. Ptak, of Ptak Science Books looks at Horse Poop and the Stars: Robert Hooke, 1673 (No, it Wasn’t Pegasus).

Whale poop made quite a splash a few months back, so it got covered by several bloggers:

First was Jason Goldman, of The Thoughtful Animal: Whale Poop

Next, Hilary Maybaum, at Wet: Save the Whale Poop

Finally, Smriti Rao, at Discoblog: A Novel Geoengineering Idea: Increase the Ocean’s Quotient of Whale Poop

[Tiger droppings. Image from here]

One animal’s poop may be food, or home, for another organism, for example a carnivorous plant. Grant Jacob, of Code of Life, describes one such case: Aww, crap.

Here at A Blog Around The Clock, I explain another case – how a fungus uses animal droppings as home, and the difficulties it has in leaving it: Postscript to Pittendrigh’s Pet Project – Phototaxis, Photoperiodism and Precise Projectile Parabolas of Pilobolus on Pasture Poop

And sometimes it is poop of one animal feeding another, as Hannah Waters, of Culturing Science, discovered: Marine Snow: dead organisms and poop as manna in the ocean.

Sanitation is a big problem in many parts of the world. Diseases are often spread via feces deposited in open pits. Liz Borkowski, of The Pump Handle, describes an effective strategy to help: In Praise of Toilets.

The comment thread on this old post by Brian Sack at Banterist is hilarious, but also very informative: China Dispatch: Using the Squat Toilet.

Human poo is not the only potential source of disease. Birds can also play their part, including at the beaches. S. E. Gould, of Lab Rat, thus decided to take a look at the Seagull Poo.

There is something fascinating about penguins and their poop. SamW, at From C to Carnivore had to spread the fascination to two posts: Tracking penguins in (& from) space and Tracking penguins in time.

The same story was also covered by TreeHugger: Ain’t Technology Amazing? Scientists Can Track Penguin Poop From Space!

And an old post by Shelley Batts, of Retrospectacle, explains the IgNobel Prize-winning research: Science Vault: Projectile Penguin Poop Pressures


I also could not resist collecting some of the older posts I remember from some years ago…they were that memorable!

Revere, of Effect Measure: The future is always a crap shoot

Darren Neish, of Tetrapod Zoology: Getting the phrase ‘shit happens’ into the title of a technical publication

Miriam Goldstein, currently of Deep Sea News, formerly of the Oyster’s Garter: How poop is slowing climate change

Dahlia Rideout, at Divine Caroline: What Happens When You Go Number 2 in Space? (video)

Let’s finish on a musical note. Kevin Zelnio of Deep Sea News wrote and recorded a song: Everything Poops:

That’s it for this month. I hope you have enjoyed this and learned something and got inspired! Next edition of the Carnal Carnival will be in September 2010, hosted by Carin Bondar – Biologist With a Twist – the theme will be barf. Follow the carnival on Twitter for updates.


18 responses to “Carnal Carnival #1 – Essentials of Elimination

  1. Pingback: Craptacular Carnal Carnival | Code for Life

  2. Awesome collection!

  3. Pingback: Carnal Carnival #1 – Essentials of Elimination « The Carnal Carnival

  4. Great carnival – I never realized crap could be so interesting!

  5. Pingback: The many (scientific) uses of penguin poop (Part III) « From C to Carnivore

  6. Pingback: Next Stop for the Carnal Train…Regurgitation Anyone? | Dr. Carin Bondar

  7. Where’s Orac, with his old colon cleansing posts? Here’s one, for example: Would you like a liver flush with that?.

    Greatcrappy idea for a carnival! And loads of good reading for this weekend. Thanks!

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  9. Pingback: More on Excrement [The Pump Handle] | Medical News

  10. An artist friend of mine is working on a show about how poop is viewed in society. Very interesting and witty! check it out:

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