Can snails fart?
September 9, 2019 10:37 AM   Subscribe

 
did you know that whales fart.
posted by nikaspark at 10:37 AM on September 9


Longstanding question: Why do boogers taste good but earwax tastes gross?

They are head secretions with similar purpose, why are they so different?
posted by carsonb at 10:48 AM on September 9 [6 favorites]


I love these kind of things.
posted by sperose at 10:51 AM on September 9


Also directly linked from the "Do snails fart?" article is a totally official and utterly comprehensive (GoogleDocs) database of animals and whether they fart or not. I'll be passing this along to my librarian for future reference.
posted by carsonb at 10:52 AM on September 9 [9 favorites]


I can say for certain that caterpillars and inchworms poop. Source: I have been pooped upon.
posted by grumpybear69 at 11:04 AM on September 9 [3 favorites]


I love this! Though I do question the choice of ending the dog longevity answer to a child with a reference to Laika...I don’t think a child would like that story very much.

I never knew the green snot one, and would never have even thought of the butterfly memory one. Great post.
posted by lazaruslong at 11:17 AM on September 9 [4 favorites]


Do ants get headaches?
posted by ovvl at 11:18 AM on September 9 [1 favorite]


Another longstanding question: monkey beards (and hair)

Why do human head hair and beards grow very long but the head and facial hair of, say, chimps and monkeys don't? I've found answers like this one from smithsonian.com, that human hair like all animal hair does have a genetically-determined length limit, but that seems to answer the "how" more than the "why". Why did humans come to have head and face hair with longer limits while other apes didn't?

Related ancillary question: why do humans have a beard zone from roughly the middle of the face to the middle of the neck? Why just there?
posted by Sangermaine at 11:19 AM on September 9 [3 favorites]


This is neat!

Though, the "why doesn't lava melt the side of the volcano" answer is thoroughly unsatisfying. "This molten rock is too cold to melt rock" isn't actually an answer. It might be if one then talked about the differences between kinds of rock or the timescales involved in heat transfer, but they just dodge the actual question. Even when I was nine that answer would have pissed me off. (I spent an embarrassing part of my early youth getting angry at museum docents for not actually answering questions. I feel rather bad about that now that I know more about the people who answer children's questions in museums.) But, the site in general seems fantastic and I look forward to recommending it to people.
posted by eotvos at 11:47 AM on September 9 [1 favorite]


Also directly linked from the "Do snails fart?" article is a totally official and utterly comprehensive (GoogleDocs) database of animals and whether they fart or not. I'll be passing this along to my librarian for future reference.

Previously
posted by Huffy Puffy at 12:14 PM on September 9 [2 favorites]


Hummingbirds are basically constantly peeing or excreting whatever it is that's left over after digesting sugar water or nectar. If you watch them carefully it's like every other second or so they let out a little droplet. If you have a feeder over something it'll get covered in a weird sticky film.

I'm pretty sure land molluscs, - in particular banana slugs and other kinds of slugs - not only have every weird kind of excretion, burp or fart known to any mammal but several dozen other kinds of indescribably gross excretions and habits.

I've seen far too many of them doing the strangest things, like finding several of them just hanging out with their auricals or ear holes or whatever spread so far open you could see well inside them like they were having a gross out contest with each other, or engaging in cannibalism frenzies when one gets squashed underfoot.

It's subtle but I get the impression that slugs may be more into being slugs than any other creature out there, even otters being otters, which is saying a lot. I'm pretty sure slugs think it's really great be sluggy at levels that are profoundly and intensely disturbing.

(Yes, I've seen that slug mating video where they hang in mid air and act like a pair of Burning Man aerialists dipped in gel lube thizzing their face off in an orgy tent.)
posted by loquacious at 12:31 PM on September 9 [13 favorites]


Though, the "why doesn't lava melt the side of the volcano" answer is thoroughly unsatisfying. "This molten rock is too cold to melt rock" isn't actually an answer. It might be if one then talked about the differences between kinds of rock or the timescales involved in heat transfer, but they just dodge the actual question.

I think it answered the question. Lava is generally not hot enough to melt rocks. End of story. It is hot enough to melt wood and start grass fires.
posted by The_Vegetables at 12:47 PM on September 9


Curious Kids: do cats and dogs understand us when we miaow or bark?

Do Australian cats say "miaow" while US cats say "meow"? Can they understand the language differences or is this a spelling thing?
posted by The_Vegetables at 12:49 PM on September 9 [1 favorite]


I think it answered the question. Lava is generally not hot enough to melt rocks. End of story. It is hot enough to melt wood and start grass fires.

Ok. I missed your question. You wanted a discussion of types of rocks that can melt (and thereby become lava) vs those that cannot. That would be a good addition to the answer.
posted by The_Vegetables at 12:53 PM on September 9


"This molten rock is too cold to melt rock" isn't actually an answer.

Well, it kind of is, it just needs more detail. Something like, the lava contains enough heat to melt itself, but not enough that it can stay melted and impart enough heat to other rocks to melt them. When lava loses heat to surrounding rock, it becomes rock itself.
posted by klanawa at 12:57 PM on September 9 [1 favorite]


For at least volcanoes like Rainier and St Helens which line the edges of continental plates, it's my understanding that the the subducting oceanic plate's high water content lowers the melting point of the rock.  It ends up bubbling up like a lava lamp—that's why there's a string of volcanoes running down our west coast—and I'm guessing the continental rock above it fails to melt at least partially because of its lower water content. Bit of a shame they don't explain it better, because it's fascinating.

But that'd be for the volcanoes that line the continental plates. I have no idea what the answer is for ones like Kilauea.
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 1:40 PM on September 9 [1 favorite]


Longstanding question: Why do boogers taste good but earwax tastes gross?

I think earwax is meant to be unpleasant to encourage bugs that find their way into your ear to leave. Boogers, I'm gonna guess, because they're salty?
posted by Bee'sWing at 1:48 PM on September 9 [3 favorites]


Boogers are to entice bugs in? I can buy that.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 2:01 PM on September 9 [4 favorites]


Hee hee hee! Noses are better at expelling foreign objects than ears though.
posted by Bee'sWing at 2:08 PM on September 9 [1 favorite]


I want to return to the question of metamorphosis. In a complete metamorphosis, the pupa literally digests the bulk of the caterpillar into, effectively, a yolk and the moth/butterfly develops from a few patches of cells known as "imaginal discs" from which all of the "adult" features derive.
Once a caterpillar has disintegrated all of its tissues except for the imaginal discs, those discs use the protein-rich soup all around them to fuel the rapid cell division required to form the wings, antennae, legs, eyes, genitals and all the other features of an adult butterfly or moth. The imaginal disc for a fruit fly's wing, for example, might begin with only 50 cells and increase to more than 50,000 cells by the end of metamorphosis.
How complete is this transformation? Well, it depends on the exact species and it's also somewhat unclear.
Depending on the species, certain caterpillar muscles and sections of the nervous system are largely preserved in the adult butterfly. One study even suggests that moths remember what they learned in later stages of their lives as caterpillars.

Getting a look at this metamorphosis as it happens is difficult; disturbing a caterpillar inside its cocoon or chrysalis risks botching the transformation.
It would not be wrong (nor particularly right!) to think of the caterpillar as the "natural" form of the insect rather than a "larval" form. This is the stage that feeds and grows; the "adult" phase is simply for dispersal and breeding.

In other branches of the insect class, the "adult" phase is even more ephemeral. Mayflies and cicadas are obvious examples. The bulk of the life of these insects is in their nymphal stages and their "adult" phases are quite short indeed. (Other branches, for instance ladybugs, spend a short time in larval stages and most of their lives in adult forms.)
posted by sjswitzer at 2:16 PM on September 9 [5 favorites]


Longstanding question: Why do boogers taste good but earwax tastes gross?

I reject the premise of this question
posted by invitapriore at 6:08 PM on September 9 [5 favorites]


The real question is what makes boogers taste extra gross when you're sick?
posted by Zalzidrax at 7:25 PM on September 9


Related ancillary question: why do humans have a beard zone from roughly the middle of the face to the middle of the neck? Why just there?

This smacks directly up against one of my subjects of fascination that I never get to observe closely enough because it would all be creepy.

But I'm utterly fascinated by hair growth patters. Direction, density, demarkation lines, length, straight or curly, how curly.....

If I could I would spend most of my life walking up to probably mostly men (not because I'm gay, but because being gay has shown me how much fucking variety there is out there) and asking if I could really look at their body hair. Where it grows, how it grows (curly/straight, short/long) what the coverage patterns are, are they symmetrical, how are they separated, what does their stubble look like in shaved areas...

I have no idea why I find this whole thing so fascinating, but I do. I can get lost in my own arm/leg hair if I get too stoned or have been awake too long.

Anyway, that feels like a lot of rather personal information to put out there in one comment, so I shall leave it here.
posted by hippybear at 8:40 PM on September 9 [6 favorites]



I think earwax is meant to be unpleasant to encourage bugs that find their way into your ear to leave. Boogers, I'm gonna guess, because they're salty?


which makes me wonder tho, what's up with cats? Most cats appear to have a special taste sensor for earwax - I'm sure you've heard of cats eating used q-tips - both human earwax and cat earwax. They love that shit. Like it's catnip or something. What gives there? Is this to encourage mutual grooming inside the ears where cats cant normally really reach themselves? I suppose it may be?
posted by some loser at 7:41 AM on September 10 [3 favorites]


I love this stuff and my daughter is constantly asking questions like this and I don't have all the answers! And if I try to say I don't know or I don't know how to explain that she says, "Just try." We're going on a short road trip this weekend and I'm just going to bring up this site on her iPad and let her devour it all. Hopefully she gets her fill.

The miaow v meow made me think of this
posted by Bacon Bit at 8:13 AM on September 10 [1 favorite]


The second link mixes up the epiglottis with the uvula and I'm VIBRATING
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 1:18 PM on September 10


Apart from that these seem pretty great
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 1:19 PM on September 10


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