Scientists are building an animal fart database
January 12, 2017 10:33 AM   Subscribe

Does it fart?” is one of most frequent questions zoologists receive from kids, said Dani Rabaiotti of the Zoological Society of London. In fact, the whole #DoesItFart adventure started when her teenage brother asked if snakes ever experience flatulence. Rabaiotti knew from her own work that the wild dogs of Africa definitely fart, as do the extremely gassy seals that reside on the Atlantic island of South Georgia. But she wasn’t sure about snakes, so she consulted snake expert David Steen.

Exploring the flatulent side of the animal kingdom can be useful for engagement, but also an incredibly useful research tool for better understanding of animal diets, impacts of livestock methane on climate, and even field research.
Lowe studies chimpanzees in Uganda’s Budongo forest, animals whose gas appears to vary with their diet. “Fruit is tootier than leaves, and figs seem to be the worst offenders,” she said. On occasion, these bodily functions have even aided in her research. “Several times I have been with one or two chimps and not been aware others are nearby until the farts start,” says Lowe. “Some of them have that very long, air-being-released-from-a-balloon quality, which is handy because it gives you a bit longer to pinpoint where it’s coming from.”
Follow along with #DoesItFart on Twitter.

Add your own contributions to the Google Sheet.
posted by Existential Dread (36 comments total) 39 users marked this as a favorite
 
This is THE GREATEST. I can't wait to be remember that entire bays are filled with herring farts next time I go swimming!
posted by everybody had matching towels at 10:45 AM on January 12, 2017 [2 favorites]


"Giraffe: Hell Yes. At 'face height' of the average man."

We have a winner folks!
posted by pwally at 10:52 AM on January 12, 2017 [7 favorites]


"Snow Leopards: Their floofy bottoms help to muffle the sound."

I dispute your choice, sir.
posted by Rock Steady at 10:58 AM on January 12, 2017 [1 favorite]


I fart, if anyone is wondering. Best to take my word for it. Its not one of those things that rewards learning by smelling.
posted by biffa at 11:01 AM on January 12, 2017 [3 favorites]


posted by Existential Dread

Eponysterical!
posted by ZenMasterThis at 11:06 AM on January 12, 2017 [1 favorite]


Common whelks Buccinum undatum No
posted by supermedusa at 11:08 AM on January 12, 2017 [1 favorite]


Of course whelks don't fart. Their shells would fill up and they'd be left bobbing helplessly on the surface of the sea if they did.
posted by scruss at 11:18 AM on January 12, 2017 [2 favorites]


That spreadsheet is one of the greatest things I have ever read, and I am immediately sending it to my sister who is a wildlife biologist.

I expect her to report that black bears fart.
posted by joyceanmachine at 11:22 AM on January 12, 2017 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty sure The Whelk has farted, and probably done so in several embarrassing situations.

I hope he will detail them in this thread.
posted by hippybear at 11:30 AM on January 12, 2017 [8 favorites]


Can they measure "stink" of them too and see who has the stinkiest farts?
posted by pizzakats708 at 11:36 AM on January 12, 2017


"Snow Leopards: Their floofy bottoms help to muffle the sound."

Same.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:41 AM on January 12, 2017 [8 favorites]


No lie, the best thing I learned when I went chasing down a rabbit hole of acoustic communication evolution a few years ago was this:

Loaches--a sort of small fish--have been known to produce a loud clicking sound by merit of forcing air very hard out of their swim bladder through the anus. At least, as far as I could tell, that was the best idea that folks had about how they were making the clicking noises they use to communicate. Looks like 2003 we found out that herring, too, might be communicating via farting. Delightfully, the researchers involved chose to call the noises produced by the herring Fast Repetitive Ticks, or FRTs for short.

that's going in my mental lexicon of Best Scientific Names, right after the paper that pioneered the ability to make headless fruit flies hooked up to electrodes on specific neurons that could be made to produce wing song on cue and promptly named the flies "flyPods"
posted by sciatrix at 11:43 AM on January 12, 2017 [18 favorites]


god I love my job sometimes
posted by sciatrix at 11:44 AM on January 12, 2017 [9 favorites]


Speaking of the intersection of science and farting, an acquaintance of mine recently calculated that a human would have to fart continuously, every second day and night, for 23.5 years to produce an amount of power equal to the smallest atomic bomb. Calculations in this thread.

It made me laugh and restored my faith in humanity for days after reading this, so I thought I'd share here too.
posted by ActionPopulated at 11:50 AM on January 12, 2017 [4 favorites]


From AskMe: Why don't cats fart? Important proof (unmute it): Vine
posted by AFABulous at 11:52 AM on January 12, 2017 [7 favorites]


Looks like 2003 we found out that herring, too, might be communicating via farting

Have I been living in a John Scalzi farting aliens novel this whole time?
posted by aperturescientist at 12:05 PM on January 12, 2017 [2 favorites]


"Crested Geckos: Individual named Tangerine farted before defecting."

This sounds like information gleaned from a diplomatic cable leak.
posted by Kabanos at 12:30 PM on January 12, 2017 [3 favorites]


  🐈💨
posted by D.C. at 12:35 PM on January 12, 2017 [1 favorite]


Right now I have several browser windows open both from this post and from the Chuck Tingle post. People, it's butts and farts all the way down!
posted by Orange Dinosaur Slide at 12:41 PM on January 12, 2017 [1 favorite]


In that spreadsheet, my favorite entries are the ones that just say "Yes" with no comments. There's so much grim experience in those empty spaces.
posted by PlusDistance at 12:56 PM on January 12, 2017 [5 favorites]


I love that we're all appearing as anonymous animal users in that Google Sheet!
posted by Constant Reader at 12:59 PM on January 12, 2017


It appears there may be some data quality issues; see entries on Unicorns and on Parakeets, in which the following appears:
My friend's parakeet farted in my face when I was 9 years old. (Note: literature disputes this - see "Birds", which are purported not to fart)
posted by Existential Dread at 1:01 PM on January 12, 2017 [1 favorite]


An anecdote from the human side (pediatrics, though, so as close to veterinary as human medicine gets)...the best way to get a little kid with a tummyache engaged during their appointment is to point out the bowel gas pattern on their abdominal x-ray.

"See this dark bit?" I say. They nod. "What's that?"

They stare and shake their head. "You don't know?" I usually get a cocker-spaniel look at this point.

"That's a fart."

Their eyes go wide and they start to laugh, then wonder if they're not supposed to laugh, then look up at Mom for guidance, who is usually holding one back herself, which gives the kiddo permission to let the laugh out.

"Yep. Future farts, here here and here."

The laughs come easier. I lean in conspiratorially.

"They're coming."
posted by saturday_morning at 2:09 PM on January 12, 2017 [42 favorites]


I also love my job sometimes
posted by saturday_morning at 2:09 PM on January 12, 2017 [10 favorites]


I work in natural gas conservation, which isn't really about holding in farts, but sometimes I like to pretend that it is.
posted by nickmark at 2:17 PM on January 12, 2017 [12 favorites]


Along these lines: one of my favorite artifacts from mythbusters is my trio of bottles of lion, warthog, and ostrich poop respectively.
posted by asavage at 2:27 PM on January 12, 2017 [15 favorites]


asavage: What were those for? Aside from the ambience, obviously.
posted by saturday_morning at 2:30 PM on January 12, 2017 [2 favorites]


The Lion, the 'Stritch, and the Warthog
posted by Kabanos at 2:33 PM on January 12, 2017 [3 favorites]


> Loaches--a sort of small fish--have been known to produce a loud clicking sound

I have an aquarium with a number of medium-sized Chromobotia loaches, and can confirm that they click very loudly, and clearly use it to communicate with each other. But I've never seen any bubbles. Given that chromobotia sleep in heaps stacked any old how (it's totes adorbs) I'd say that any farting would be frowned upon.
posted by scruss at 4:43 PM on January 12, 2017 [2 favorites]


I love you too, science.
posted by hapaxes.legomenon at 5:27 PM on January 12, 2017 [2 favorites]


No.
posted by pxe2000 at 5:29 PM on January 12, 2017


But remember, humans are the only species that will actually set their own farts on fire.
posted by Ber at 5:57 PM on January 12, 2017 [2 favorites]


saturday_morning: I imagine they're from the bit about polishing a turd.
posted by cardioid at 7:29 PM on January 12, 2017 [1 favorite]


fart continuously, every second day and night, for 23.5 years to produce an amount of power equal to the smallest atomic bomb.

Hmmm seems doable.
posted by boilermonster at 12:15 AM on January 15, 2017


Looks like 2003 we found out that herring, too, might be communicating via farting. Delightfully, the researchers involved chose to call the noises produced by the herring Fast Repetitive Ticks, or FRTs for short.

More importantly, they won an 2004 IgNobel for that discovery, shared with a Swedish team who'd recently figured out that it wasn't actually Russian invaders farting in Swedish submarine monitoring hydrophones in the 90ies, but something smaller and more delicious.
posted by effbot at 12:08 PM on January 16, 2017


(Not sure about the Human entry in the spreadsheet, btw. It just says "yes" but according to QI some people from Copenhagen don't fart.)
posted by effbot at 12:25 PM on January 16, 2017


« Older The Great Molassacre   |   Filling the amateur space archaeology niche Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments