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Scientists build a database of animal farts

Freshwater mussels? Goats? Wombats? If you've ever wondered whether a particular animal farts or not, hie thee to the #DoesItFart database.

It's not some weird, fake meme thing, by the way; this database is maintained by actual scientists who have, like, real scientific degrees and do science stuff all day long.

What happened was that a couple of them realized that, when discussing rare animals with the public, "does it fart?" was one of the most common questions. So they started inputting their info into a Google spreadsheet, available to the curious masses.

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A quick glance at the spreadsheet suggests that the answer is nearly always "yes". Only a small minority of animals seem to be non-flatulent. Blue mussels, amonite, common whelks, moonsnail -- you guys are the very model of restraint. Oh, and in the "Description/notes" field, the scientists seem to be enjoying themselves quite a lot.

The Washington Post wrote a fun story about the database last year, noting that flatulence is actually a terrific entrypoint into the complex stew of animal biology:

And if engagement is the goal — or at least a byproduct — does it really matter what the topic is? “Just because it’s flatulence doesn’t mean it’s inherently silly,” said Adriana Lowe, a researcher of biological anthropology at the University of Kent in the United Kingdom. “The diets and digestive systems of animals are an important and fascinating field of study, and gas is just a part of that.”

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.”

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