Why you should give a square shit about wombats
Here’s a free fact: Wombats are the original dice-makers.
Ice ages before Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson introduced Dungeons & Dragons and its fancy nerdlinger 12- and 20- and 100-sided dice to the socially inept world…
…wombats were churning out good ol’ 6-sided dice for Aboriginal gamblers like it was going out of style. And I do mean churn.
See, wombats have cubic poop.
Take a peek for yourself.
How do they do it? These cute-as-a-really-cute-button (I’ve never found regular buttons particularly cute), furry, intelligent marsupials—and the closest living relative to the koala—have special bones in their backsides for squeezing and shaping and slicing their feces.*
But know this: having square scat is not a useless talent.
Wombats poop on top of rocks and logs near their burrows; not so much to keep intruders away, but to remind wombats how to get home. It seems they have terrible eyesight but an excellent sense of smell. So natural selection gave their rubik’s poop a smell distinctive to each individual wombat. However, for the poop to remain in place atop its rock or log—and thus help them find their way home after a heavy night of grass-eating (and smoking, no doubt)—the shit comes out cubic.
Because there’s nothing more frustrating than having your poop roll away when you want it to stay.
*(for a more unappealingly diligent biological explanation, check this quasi-fetishistic video out.)
ONE MORE THING you should know about wombats: despite being mostly peace-loving, herbivorous, crepuscular (means “appearing or active after twilight,” and “phenomenal word”) creatures that spend their lives digging holes so they can hide in them, wombats are responsible for more human deaths than almost any other animal in Australia—and Australia has a LOT of deadly animals.
Why? Because they’re kegs on legs. Their rear hides are crazy tough and strong, which helps them burrow and acts as a nifty shield (and occasional weapon) against predators. They weigh between 70-90 lbs and have an insanely low center of gravity. And they’re one of the strongest burrowing animals in the world. All those qualities make them hard to smush.
At night when they come out to feed, squatty wombats will act as a launching ramp for passing motorists unlucky enough to run into them, sending their cars skywards and off the road. Amazingly enough, wombats have been known to survive these accidents.
So next time you’re driving in Australia and catch a glimpse of cubic crap, look out.
Here endeth the lesson.