When a video of farting zebras is emailed to you, the correct thing to do is open it. Open it right away. That’s what we did when two sisters from Swaziland sent in their farting zebra video, and it did not disappoint. The girls took the video on their one-hour commute to school, which looks lovely. But looks aren’t everything… the SOUNDS are pretty incredible too. I mean, how often do you come upon a herd of zebras on your way to school?
We probably watched the video too many times, because we’d never heard this before (I’m sure our cubicle-mates were mildly amused too). This video sent us on a path of animal fart discovery. In this episode, we take a closer look (no smells, thank you) at the wondrous world of animal flatulence.
Funny sounds and the flatulence of animals got a couple zoologists to come up with this question: do all animals fart? Researchers Dani Rabaiotti and Nick Caruso were acquaintances on Twitter, when they started collaborating on the “does it fart” database. They asked other scientists and experts to help them find evidence of which animals fart and which don’t. It turns out, most animals do fart, but there are a couple surprising exceptions. Ever heard a bird or sloth pass gas? Nope.
In this episode, we follow the path of the animal fart database. We’ll hear about snakes, birds, manatees, and an insect that gives new meaning to silent but deadly. Farts can be funny, but they’re also really important. They’re a vital function of life, and animals use them for a variety of amazing reasons.
The does it fart database is definitely worth a perusal. You’ll find some interesting facts and pretty funny anecdotes in the notes field (note: try not to be around a spotted hyena after it has eaten a meal of camel intestines). Dani and Nick have turned the database into a book, “Does it Fart: The Definitive Field Guide to Animal Flatulence,” which will be released later this year. And as a special treat, for this episode, we’ve asked Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band to write a brand new animal fart song. Put this episode on repeat, because it’s a GAS!
SARAH LOGAN MCGINN: You're listening to Brains On, where we're serious about being curious.
SARAH LOGAN MCGINN: There are all kinds of different animals, but many of us share an important trait.
MOLLY BLOOM: From Coral snakes in the Sonoran desert--
ELLA LOGAN MCGINN: --to zebras in Swaziland.
SARAH LOGAN MCGINN: From bearded dragons in Australia to cuttlefish in the ocean.
MOLLY BLOOM: We're not talking about our common ancestors or our DNA or any of that stuff.
ELLA LOGAN MCGINN: It's just crucial bodily functions seen in creatures big and small.
SARAH LOGAN MCGINN: Near and far.
MOLLY BLOOM: In creatures with butts of one form or another. Today's show is all about--
SISTERS: --animal farts.
MOLLY BLOOM: You're listening to Brains On from American Public Media, a show where we take your questions and ideas, dig up some answers, and inspire curiosity. I'm your host, Molly Bloom. And with me today from Swaziland are sisters Sarah and Ella Logan McGinn. Hello.
MOLLY BLOOM: So, as I mentioned, you live in Swaziland. And that means you see, regularly, lots of animals that I have only read about in books or seen in zoos. So first of all, can you tell some of our listeners where Swaziland is?
ELLA LOGAN MCGINN: Swaziland is a landlocked country between Mozambique and South Africa in Africa.
MOLLY BLOOM: Excellent. And what are some of the animals that you see just when you're on your way to school?
SARAH LOGAN MCGINN: We normally see impala, waterbuck, kudu, zebra, and sometimes we see nyala and warthog.
MOLLY BLOOM: That is amazing. And so the reason that we brought you in today to help us is because of a video that you sent us that actually inspired this whole episode. Let's take a listen and then you can tell us what it is.
So Ella and Sarah, tell our listeners what is happening in this video.
SARAH LOGAN MCGINN: The zebra are running away from us. And we're just going on a drive through [? Jabayuh, ?] our farm.
ELLA LOGAN MCGINN: And they were fighting while they were running. And to us it was very funny. We started to hear them farting. And then we thought it would be a good mystery sound for Brains On, so my mom took a video of it.
MOLLY BLOOM: Good idea. Well, we've posted that video over at brainson.org, so listeners please feel free to take a look and listen to this amazing creature. And don't worry, the video is odorless. Zebra farting can be funny, but like humans, it's just part of what happens in bodies. To learn all about human farts, you can check out our episode called "Fart Smarts." That's on our website, too. So just like humans, zebras have to let out a fart every now and then.
SARAH LOGAN MCGINN: Over the past few weeks, we've been gathering listener-submitted animal farts.
MOLLY BLOOM: And to be clear, these are not recordings of actual animals farting like your zebra video. This is what our listeners think these farts sound like.
CHRISTOPHER: This is a red fox fart.
ELLA: And I think that apes' fart makes--
ERNEST: This is a shrimp fart, I think.
EVELYN: This is a pig fart.
FINN: And this is an armadillo fart.
HARPER: This is my impression of a mosquito fart.
JULIET: And I'm going to make the sound of a rat farting.
LUCY And I think a lobster toot is like this.
PENELOPE: The end.
MOLLY BLOOM: Thanks to Christopher, Ella, Ernest, Evelyn, Finn, Harper, Juliet, Lucy, and Penelope. We're going to bring you more listener-submitted animal farts a little later in the show. Now, to the real question at hand.
SARAH LOGAN MCGINN: Do all animals fart? Before we answer that we have to agree on a definition of a fart.
DANI RABAIOTTI: We had some debate over this actually, didn't we?
NICK CARUSO: Yeah, we did. Like, what actually is a fart?
MOLLY BLOOM: Meet zoologist Dani Rabaiotti and Nick Caruso. They've become de facto animal fart experts. They've been working together to assemble a, "Does It Fart" database, a catalog of animal flatulence. That's why they're so interested in figuring out what exactly counts as a fart.
DANI RABAIOTTI: Yeah, there's a medical definition of flatulence, but that doesn't quite mean the same as a fart. So flatulence is defined as, flatus expelled through the anus. But that technically has to be gas that's produced during digestion, which wouldn't necessarily be what a fart is. Because, like in humans, a lot of that air is swallowed. So we kind of had to kind of work around that. What was the conclusion we came to in the end?
NICK CARUSO: Think it was just any gas expelled through the endpoint that isn't the mouth. So it could be swallowed air. Could be gas from digestion. And it doesn't have to be an anus. We have animals that have cloaca. So it was-- we broadened the definition a bit.
MOLLY BLOOM: Nick researches salamanders in the Appalachian Mountains.
ELLA LOGAN MCGINN: And Dani studies wild African dogs. But it was a snake that brought them together.
DANI RABAIOTTI: My brother asked me, do snakes fart? And I was like, I don't actually know. I don't study snakes. But I do know someone that will. So I got on Twitter and I asked a guy called David Stein. He's an assistant research professor of wildlife, ecology, and conservation at Auburn University, and a snake expert. The answer was yes, snakes do fart.
MOLLY BLOOM: And some snakes can even do it on demand. We'll get back to Dani and Nick in just a minute. But Ella and Sarah, I think we need to hear more about these farting snakes. Right?
BRUCE YOUNG: Hello. My name is Dr. Bruce Young. I am a professor of anatomy at the Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine. And although I teach medical anatomy, most of my research is on the anatomy of snakes.
SARAH LOGAN MCGINN: Bruce has studied snakes for almost 30 years.
MOLLY BLOOM: He says snakes do fart, sort of. A snake passes gas through its cloaca. For snakes, this part is sort of an opening or vent in their bodies.
BRUCE YOUNG: So they have a single vent in their body where their digestive, their urinary, and their reproductive system all opens into this one vent. Gas builds up in its large intestine, and then it passes out through the vent. And if enough of it passes out in a short period of time, it's audible. What's interesting about snakes is that there are a few types of snakes, only a few in the world, that have modified this system. And they will fart as a way of intimidating someone.
ELLA LOGAN MCGINN: Like a fear-inducing fart? I'd be scared of that.
MOLLY BLOOM: Yeah. That sound is known best from two types of snakes in North America-- the Sonoran coral snake and a little burrowing snake called the hooknose snake. Now for those of you with siblings, farts as intimidation might be a familiar tactic. But I doubt your brother or sister can compete with a snake.
BRUCE YOUNG: So they can fart on demand. And they actually do it with enough force that they can lift their tail up off the ground by doing it. It produces a very high-pitched kind of squeaky sound.
They're just rhythmically expelling little bursts of air from their cloaca.
SARAH LOGAN MCGINN: As far as Bruce can tell, the sound is a little strange.
BRUCE YOUNG: Quite frankly, it's a silly sound. It's not intimidating in the least bit. It may be that it's not intended to really dissuade or scare off the predator. It may be it's intended to bring the predator's attention to the tail. Because if you're an animal like a snake, if you have to get bit by something, it's better to be bit on your tail than anywhere else. But we don't know.
MOLLY BLOOM: So snakes get a check in the yes column of Dani and Nick's animal fart database.
ELLA LOGAN MCGINN: But when it comes to the no column--
DANI RABAIOTTI: There actually wasn't that many animals that didn't fart. Most of the ones that didn't fart didn't really have much anatomy to be able to fart. But we did spend a really long time verifying whether sloths farted. And the end answer was no. So that was quite surprising because they're a mammal. But I had to ask a lot of experts about that one.
MOLLY BLOOM: But the top nonfarter is a little easier to spot than a sloth.
NICK CARUSO: Birds is probably the number one on that list. All birds don't fart, as far as we know.
MOLLY BLOOM: Sarah and Ella, is it surprising to you that birds don't fart?
SARAH LOGAN MCGINN: I think it's very surprising.
ELLA LOGAN MCGINN: And I don't because I just looked it up a while ago.
MOLLY BLOOM: So you already knew that, that they're not farters?
ELLA LOGAN MCGINN: Yeah.
MOLLY BLOOM: But we wanted to find out more about what makes birds so unflatulent. So we called up Laura Erickson. She's been teaching and writing about birds for over 40 years. And she talks about them on her podcast, For the Birds.
LAURA ERICKSON: Birds have such short intestines compared to mammals. It's one of their adaptations for flying that they eat food that they can extract the nourishment from really quickly. So the food stays in their bodies as short a length of time as possible. Nothing has time to build up and become gassy and smelly because it goes out as quick as it comes in.
ELLA LOGAN MCGINN: So food comes in and goes out quickly.
SARAH LOGAN MCGINN: That way the birds aren't weighed down by all the extra stuff.
MOLLY BLOOM: Making it much easier for them to take off.
LAURA ERICKSON: So birds don't fart because they can fly.
MOLLY BLOOM: At least that's how the story goes most of the time.
LAURA ERICKSON: We do know, though, that a graduate student at Cornell named Alan Richard Weisbrod, in 1965 he was studying Blue Jays, and he wrote what may be the first written description of bird flatulence. He was there in December when it was very cold, and he was looking through the window of the office into the captive jay enclosure. And when one of the birds defecated, went to the bathroom, it also let out a small puff of whitish gas. So that was proof that gas comes out, too. And that's what a fart is.
I also heard from a birder who spent a lot of time in New Zealand, who actually heard kiwis make a farting sound. Apparently, they're very mammal-like in a lot of their physiology. And that may be one factor that makes them a true farting bird.
MOLLY BLOOM: But these are just stories that require more proof before they'll be accepted. Meanwhile, the bird fart remains elusive. Does it actually exist?
ELLA LOGAN MCGINN: For now, we think no.
SARAH LOGAN MCGINN: But maybe? Let's move from feathers to flippers.
MOLLY BLOOM: Birds are nonfarters. On the opposite end of the spectrum, an animal that may be a true fart artiste.
SARAH LOGAN MCGINN: A fartist?
MOLLY BLOOM: Sure. A fartist. When you look on the "Does It Fart" database, the note for this sea-dwelling creature reads, "near constantly".
KAT BERNER: Manatees are gassy animals. It's just one of those cool facts about them.
MOLLY BLOOM: Kat Berner looks after a couple manatees, named Hugh and Buffett, at the Mote Marine Aquarium in Sarasota, Florida. Kat is a senior aquarium biologist there.
ELLA LOGAN MCGINN: Manatees look kind of like seals, only a lot bigger and fatter.
MOLLY BLOOM: They have two front flippers and one big back tail called a fluke.
ELLA LOGAN MCGINN: Just like a whale.
SARAH LOGAN MCGINN: These marine mammals are usually found slowly meandering around shallow waters searching for food.
MOLLY BLOOM: Kat monitors Hugh and Buffett all day long. Part of that means watching and listening.
ELLA LOGAN MCGINN: And unfortunately, it also means smelling.
KAT BERNER: They are submerged underwater so that can kind of mute the smell slightly, but if you're downwind, manatee farts can be very stinky. It would smell kind of like a barnyard. Manatees are herbivores so they feed primarily on vegetation. In the wild they would eat different types of saltwater and freshwater plants and seagrasses. And so here at our aquarium, we provide them with all types of greens.
And they eat anywhere from about 5% to 10% of their body weight every single day. And so Hugh and Buffett get 80 heads of Romaine lettuce and 12 bunches of kale on a daily basis. So because they have a very high fiber diet and they're taking in a lot of greens, that also allows for them to continue to display their normal flatulent type behavior.
Another reason for why manatees fart is because it's a great way that they're able to adjust their buoyancy. They can actually use the releasing of gas in order to go lower in the water column, or actually even come up to the surface to breathe.
They don't have other ways of remaining horizontal in the water, and by having really big lungs and having the ability to pass gas all day long, that helps keep them horizontal and allows for them to adjust their positioning. So it's actually a really, really important thing about how healthy they are. And an important tool that they use in order to survive and explore and travel through their natural environment.
MOLLY BLOOM: Humans take around two days to digest food and poop out the waste. For a manatee, that process takes about six days. That means a manatee digests a meal for nearly a week.
ELLA LOGAN MCGINN: Which is why, at any given time, they have lots of gas in them.
MOLLY BLOOM: And these farts aren't simply byproducts of digestion. Manatees use this gas to help them get around.
ELLA LOGAN MCGINN: If a manatee can't let out that gas, if it's bloated, it can't dive down.
SARAH LOGAN MCGINN: So their ability to pass gas helps Kat know how healthy they are.
MOLLY BLOOM: Another part of the body you might want to keep healthy are the ears, especially when it comes to the mystery sound.
CHILD: (WHISPERING) Mystery sound.
MOLLY BLOOM: Here it is.
Any guesses as to what that might be?
ELLA LOGAN MCGINN: I think, maybe, it's someone driving, I think. Or going fast on like a tar road with something ticking in the back.
MOLLY BLOOM: Excellent guess. Sarah, do you have a guess?
SARAH LOGAN MCGINN: Yeah. With our oven, there's like this thing that you need to press, and then it makes that ticking noise. Think it's that.
ELLA LOGAN MCGINN: Oh, when you turn it on.
MOLLY BLOOM: Oh. Oh, you turn the gas stove on?
SARAH LOGAN MCGINN: Yeah.
MOLLY BLOOM: Got it. We'll reveal the mystery sound in the second half of the show. So stick around for that. Plus, you don't want to miss--
If you could live on Mars, would you do it? We're doing an episode all about the red planet, and we want to hear your thoughts. Tell us why you would or wouldn't want to leave Earth and live on Mars. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Brains On would not be the show you know and love without you. Thanks for sending in all your questions, mystery sounds, drawings, and high fives. Keep them coming.
SARAH LOGAN MCGINN: You can send them to email@example.com.
ELLA LOGAN MCGINN: We love snail mail, too. Find our address on the website brainson.org.
MOLLY BLOOM: Freya from Corvallis, Oregon recently sent us an email asking this question.
FREYA: How does a flat rock skip across the water?
MOLLY BLOOM: We'll have the answer to that in our Moment of Um. Stick around for that and the brand new inductees to the Brain's honor roll at the end of this episode.
SARAH LOGAN MCGINN: You're listening to Brains On from American Public Media. I'm Sarah Logan McGinn.
ELLA LOGAN MCGINN: I'm Ella Logan McGinn.
MOLLY BLOOM: And I'm Molly Bloom. This episode is focused on the business of the back end-- animal farts. With the help of Dani Rabaiotti and Nick Caruso's intrepid research, we're taking a look at which animals fart and why, possibly, they do it.
SARAH LOGAN MCGINN: And we're about to enter the danger zone.
ELLA LOGAN MCGINN: Brains On resident bug guy, John Lambert, is here with the tale of an insect fart that is both silent and deadly.
JOHN LAMBERT: It's called lomamyia latipennis, or the beaded lacewing. Fully grown, it looks sort of like a dragonfly, but brown with a shorter body, wider wings, and long, beaded antenna. It begins its life as a larva born inside a termite colony. This is pretty weird since, normally, termites will find intruders and boot them out.
But some organisms, including spiders, centipedes, and insects like the beaded lacewing have evolved a sneaky trick. They can smell like a termite. So the termites take a whiff and think that these critters are one of them. The intruders get a free pass to live in this safe termite fortress that's stocked with free food. And they don't have to work to defend or supply it.
Our friend, the little lacewing larva, does exactly this. But it isn't really a great houseguest. In fact, it eats its hosts, which is amazing to think about since a single termite can be 35 times larger than the little lacewing larva. So how does it attack this bigger, beastly bug? Well, Professor Ding Johnson has discovered that it might be a toxic toot.
DING JOHNSON: The very first time I saw this, I was looking at a larva and a termite in a very small vial. And the larva ran up and looked like it touched the termite, then turned around and it literally waved the tip of its abdomen past the termite.
I was making a joke to myself about being rude to the termite. You know, mooning it. And then the termite rolled over and twitched. And after a few minutes, was immobile. And then the beaded lacewing larva came back to feed.
JOHN LAMBERT: Ding was dumbfounded. It appeared that the larva were emitting some kind of lethal gas that immobilized and killed termites. To figure this out, he used a test tube divided by a thin piece of filter paper. On one side, a termite and beaded lacewing larva. On the other side, a lone termite.
Only gas can pass through the filter paper. So if the lacewing does its butt waving thing again, and both termites keel over, then gas must be the culprit. But if only the one next to it passes out, something else must be going on. So with the experiment set up, Ding waited. And minutes after the larva waved its abdomen, both termites froze. Conclusion-- it was the gas. Silent, but deadly.
DING JOHNSON: I still remember the moment, sitting there eating my carton of yogurt for lunch, when I made the joke to myself about mooning the termite. The next few minutes were just a life changing experience in terms of making me aware of the real, specialized, marvelous things tiny little animals can do.
JOHN LAMBERT: To this day, nobody knows what chemicals are actually in the gas. And get this. These fatal fumes only work on termites, not the spiders and centipedes also lurking in the colony. These beaded lacewing farts are still a mystery, waiting for some curious entomologist to pick up where Ding Johnson left off.
MOLLY BLOOM: Speaking of stinky things, we want to let you know about a book giveaway that's going on right now. We're giving away 10 copies of No Way Way Stinky, Sticky, Sneaky Stuff. It's a book chock full of captivating facts about the stinky, sticky, and sneaky stuff all around us. You can enter for a chance to win at brainson.org/giveaway.
Now we didn't get any smellograms, but we got lots of emails from our listeners with what they think different animal farts sound like. So we couldn't help but provide a second helping.
OLIVER: This is the sound of an ant farting.
MICAH: I think this is how a penguin farts.
EDAN: I think this is how a tiger farts.
MILES: This is my version of an elephant's fart.
HATTIE: This is a zebra farting.
SCARLETT: This is a bear fart sound, I think.
STELLA: This is what I think an alligator fart sounds like.
[FART] plop plop plop plop
TRAVIS: This is how I think a T-Rex fart sounds like.
FIONA: This is the sound of a Parasaurolophus fart.
MOLLY BLOOM: That was Oliver, Micah, Edan, Miles, Hattie, Scarlett, Stella, Travis, and Fiona. It's a good thing none of them gave away this episode's mystery sound, though. Let's listen to it one more time.
What do you think this sound might be? Ella, why don't you go first.
ELLA LOGAN MCGINN: I am not sure. Like, maybe someone's spinning a wheel with like the thing ticking on it.
MOLLY BLOOM: Excellent guess. Sarah, what do you think?
SARAH LOGAN MCGINN: Maybe it's an animal. Doesn't sound like an animal. Because the show is about animal farts. It seems to make sense it's about that. Well, here is the answer.
BEN WILSON: That was the sound of a fish. That was a herring farting, making that noise.
MOLLY BLOOM: So Sarah and Ella, do you know what a herring is?
ELLA LOGAN MCGINN: No.
MOLLY BLOOM: Herring is a kind of a fish. It's about the length of a large person's hand, silvery, a larger sardine. Producer Mark Sanchez talked to the guy who captured this mystery sound.
MARK SANCHEZ: Ecologist Ben Wilson never set out to capture the sounds of herring farts. He was originally running an experiment to see if the sounds of predators had any effect on these fish.
BEN WILSON: So I was playing back killer whale sounds to herring to see what they did. I had a hydrophone, an underwater microphone, in the tank, listening back just to make sure my equipment was working. But every now and again I'd get this weird noise. And I thought it was a loose connection or something wrong with my equipment.
And then I realized, this has got to be coming from the tank without any of my electronics. And I did some experiments with and without fish in the tank. And the sound only ever came when the fish were in the tank. So I realized, at that point, this mystery noise was coming from the fish.
MARK SANCHEZ: Ben is, by far, not the only person studying herring. But most people doing research on them are doing it during the day. And that's key because herring seem to change after sundown.
BEN WILSON: So I was staying up till the middle of the night because I needed the lab to be all quiet to play back my killer whale sounds. And then this noise popped out. And, of course, when you start listening in the night, suddenly you realize that's when they're making it.
MARK SANCHEZ: Ben first heard herring make these sounds over a decade ago. And he still doesn't know why they do it exactly. So far he has observed that they only do it when other herring are around, which suggests that these farts might be a way of communicating.
BEN WILSON: If I had one fish on its own, no sounds. I could listen all night. Nothing. If I had two fish, three fish, four fish, I might occasionally get a sound. If I had 30 fish or 50 fish, I would get much more sounds. Much more. Like one per fish per night.
MARK SANCHEZ: This is actually award winning science. And when Ben wrote about what he'd observed, he had to come up with a name for the noise. And in addition to being a scientist, Ben also has a bit of a sense of humor.
BEN WILSON: I call it a fast repetitive tick. So there's the tick tick tick noise. And then there's lots of them. And it comes quite fast. And if you work that out to an acronym, it comes out as FRT.
MARK SANCHEZ: I don't know about you, but I am a sucker for a good acronym. And FRT has to be one of the best. To make this fast repetitive tick, herring use their swim bladder, a long, thin tube attached to the back of a herring's head. It follows under the fish's spine and ends at, well, the end, the anus.
Herring fill the swim bladder by swimming all the way up to the water surface and taking a big gulp of air. And besides farting, they use it for buoyancy to help them swim or dive. Ben has even taken note of the pitch of these farts. That's how high or low the tone of the sound is. And it falls right in the spot that herring can detect.
BEN WILSON: It matches very well with the kind of frequencies that herring can hear, but other fish can't. So it's really quite interesting that they might be able to communicate with each other, other herring, in a way that most other predatory fish can't hear.
MARK SANCHEZ: It's kind of like a secret code, only transmitted by farts.
SINGERS: (SINGING) Ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba, Brains On
MOLLY BLOOM: We've been exploring whether different animals fart throughout this episode, thanks to Dani Rabaiotti and Nick Caruso. Remember, they built a spreadsheet to catalog all these glorious, gassy creatures.
SARAH LOGAN MCGINN: One of the columns in the spreadsheet is where different scientists can leave notes about the animals they study.
ELLA LOGAN MCGINN: With the help of other researchers, Dani and Nick learned even more about animal farts.
NICK CARUSO: We had an entry for the hyena. Apparently, their farts smell worse after they eat camel intestines. So we weren't really sure why that was, what it is about that. But that was some anecdotes from some researchers who probably didn't have a great day in the field that day.
MOLLY BLOOM: Smelly descriptions aside, Dani and Nick say that putting together this fart database is useful science, just not in the way you might think.
DANI RABAIOTTI: It wasn't something we set out to do, necessarily, but it was something that we realized was a really good way to communicate with people how awesome all these animals are, and how different they all are. And how there's so many animals out there where we just don't actually know a lot about them.
NICK CARUSO: I think the database truly speaks at the collaborative nature of science. No one can do science, whatever their field is, by themselves. And I think that was the important part of this database. So many people came together to offer up information and talk about different aspects of something as silly as animal farts. But really shows the collaborative nature of science.
MOLLY BLOOM: Dani and Nick's database will be released as a book this fall in the UK and next year in the US.
SARAH LOGAN MCGINN: As you just heard, a fart database has the ability to bring people together.
ELLA LOGAN MCGINN: Kind of like music.
[LUCKY DIAZ AND THE FAMILY BAND, "DOES IT FART"]
(SINGING) I'm awakened by the loudest sound. It even shakes my bedroom [INAUDIBLE]. Coming from my doggy. My doggy let a fart out. Gets me thinking there's a stink fart, too. Or a rabbit or a rocket raccoon. Blowing hot air and methane everywhere. I'm losing sleep 'cause I need to know.
Does a cow cut the cheese when you give them a squeeze? How many animals, where do I start? Does it fart? Oh, oh, oh, does it fart? Oh, oh, oh, does it fart? Oh, oh, oh, does it fart? Maybe a manatee farts while in the sea. Or a bird in its nest. Yes. Or a beaded lacewing. Does a zebra? Cute in stripes. Or a school of herring sound like a bag of bagpipes. I'm losing sleep 'cause I need to know.
Does a cat make a toot when he does a boot scoot? So many animals, where do I start? Does it fart? Oh, oh, oh, does it fart? Oh, oh, oh, does it fart? Oh, oh, oh, does it fart? So many animals. Baboons. Bats. Blue mussels. Camels. Cheetahs. Chimpanzees. Copperheads. Domestic pigs. Fancy goldfish. There's fancy goldfish? Who knew? [INAUDIBLE]. Giraffes. Gorillas. Grizzly bears. Horses. Mastodons. Orangutans. Parrots. Rabbits. Maybe even a rhinoceros. I'm losing sleep 'cause I need to know.
Does a cow cut the cheese when you give them a squeeze? So many animals, where do I start? Does it fart? Does it fart? Does it fart?
MOLLY BLOOM: That was Lucky Diaz and the Family Band with the song "Does It Fart."
ELLA LOGAN MCGINN: Just like in humans, farts are a natural bodily function for a lot of animals.
SARAH LOGAN MCGINN: They can be used to help swim and float.
MOLLY BLOOM: Warn of predators.
SARAH LOGAN MCGINN: Or even kill.
ELLA LOGAN MCGINN: Some animals need to fart.
MOLLY BLOOM: And others don't do it at all. That's it for this episode of Brains On.
ELLA LOGAN MCGINN: Brains On is produced by Mark Sanchez, Sanden Totten, and Molly Bloom.
SARAH LOGAN MCGINN: We are funded, in part, by a grant from the National Science Foundation.
MOLLY BLOOM: And now for our Moment of Um.
[OVERLAPPING VOICES SAYING "UM"]
FREYA: My name is Freya and I'm six years old. And I live in Corvallis, Oregon. And my question is how do flat rocks skip across the water?
MARK SANCHEZ: They actually create a little bit of lift. And so they are able to-- they go in the water-- they have a little bit of lift, and this causes them to rise up out of the water, and do it again, over and over and over again. But there are some really specific things that have to happen in order for them to do this properly.
So they have to be spinning. And they have to be spinning about the flat, so that the flat part remains at some angle to the water. And that spin is called gyroscopic stabilization. But that allows the rock to stay at a certain angle to the water. Now when it hits the water, it can continue to hit the water at this angle, and cause lift every time it touches the water surface.
There's one more, more complicated thing I should mention, though. And that is, when it hits the surface, the surface moves. That surface moving causes a cavity to the form, we call it. It's kind of like a dimple. And actually what it is, it's creating almost a wave in front of the rock.
And the wave moves outward at a certain speed. But that speed, at first, is at the same speed as the rock, but then it slows down. And so the rock comes in contact with the wave it already created. And this is where a lot of the lift comes in, and then it can pop up out of the surface.
MOLLY BLOOM: This long list of names is going to skip right off my tongue because I'm so excited to give high fives to this new group of Brains Honor Rollees.
[LISTING HONOR ROLL]
Having your name added to the honor roll is simple. Just send in a question, mystery sound, or drawing. Send them all to firstname.lastname@example.org. We had so much stinking help this week.
ELLA LOGAN MCGINN: A windy thanks to engineers Johnny Evans, Michael Osborne,
MOLLY BLOOM: Loma Gumby and McAviney.
SARAH LOGAN MCGINN: Great, gassy gratitude must also be paid to Samantha Caruso-Peck, Stephanie Logan McGinn, and Mike Mulcahy.
SISTERS: Thanks for listening.
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