Here’s a selection of the most interesting fart facts from Rabaiotti and Caruso’s very necessary book.
1. A winged insect known as the beaded lacewing carries a powerful ᴡᴇᴀᴘᴏɴ within its butt, what Caruso and Rabaiotti call “one of the very few genuinely ꜰᴀᴛᴀʟ farts known to science.” As a hunting strategy, Lomamyia latipennis larvae release a potent fart containing the chemical allomone, ᴘᴀʀᴀʟʏᴢing and ᴋɪʟʟing their termite prey.
2. The ᴅɪᴇt of the Bolson pupfish, a freshwater fish found in northern Mexico, can lead to ᴅᴀɴɢᴇʀous levels of gas. The pupfish feeds on algae, and it can inadvertently eat the gas bubbles that algae produces in warm temperatures. The air inflates the fish’s intestines and distends its belly, messing with its equilibrium and making it difficult to swim. Even if it tries to bury itself in sediment at the bottom of a pool, as Bolson pupfish are wont to do, the air causes the fish to rise to the surface, where it’s at risk of being eaten by a bird. If the fish doesn’t fart, it will likely ᴅɪᴇ, either from predation or because its intestines rupture under the pressure of the trapped gas.
3. Herring — a small saltwater fish most commonly served pickled — use farts to communicate with one another, so that they can stay close in a shoal, even in the dark.
4. Ferrets are quite the fart machines. They not only let ‘em rip while ᴘᴏᴏᴘing—which they do every few hours on a normal day—but they get particularly gassy when they’re sᴛʀᴇssed. The pungent smells are often news to their creators, though. According to the book, “owners often report a confused look on their pet’s face in the direction of their backside after they audibly pass gas.” And you don’t want your ferret to get really scared: Their fear response involves screaming, puffing up, and simultaneous farting and ᴘᴏᴏᴘing.
5. Did dinosaurs fart?
If no one was around to hear dinosaur farts, did they even make a sound?
Dinosaurs roamed and ruled the Earth for hundreds of millions of years. But did they stink up the place?
First, the evidence against: It’s believed that modern-day birds are the evolutionary descendants of dinosaurs. And generally speaking, birds don’t fart; they lack the stomach bacteria that builds up gas in their intestines.
“But then, dinosaurs were pretty diverse,” Rabaiotti says. There were meat eaters like the fearsome Tyrannosaurus, and there were giants like sauropods that ate only plants. It’s possible the vegetarian dinosaurs had the gut bacteria necessary to break down these fibrous plants and produce gas.
“Those animals probably did fart,” Rabaiotti says, “and we’re pretty certain that they don’t fart anymore.”
6. The Bolson pupfish isn’t the only animal that needs healthy farts to maneuver underwater. Buoyancy is vital for swimming manatees, and they rely on digestive gas to keep them afloat. The West Indian manatee has pouches in its intestines where it can store farty gasses. When they have a lot of gas stored up, they’re naturally more buoyant, floating to the surface of the water. When they fart out that gas, they sink. Unfortunately, that means that a manatee’s ability to fart is vital to its well-being. When a manatee is ᴄᴏɴsᴛɪᴘᴀᴛed and can’t pass gas properly, it can lose the ability to swim properly and end up floating around with its tail above its head.
7. As befits their size, whales produce some of biggest farts on the planet. A blue whale’s digestive system can hold up to a ton of food in its multiple stomach chambers, and there are plenty of bacteria in that system waiting to break that food down. This, of course, leads to farts. While not many whale farts have been caught on camera, scientists have witnessed them—and report them to be “Incredibly pungent”.
8. Termites’re not as bad as cars or cows, but termites fart a lot, and because they are so numerous, that results in a lot of methane. Each termite only lets rip about half a microgram of methane gas a day, but every termite colony is made up of millions of individuals, and termites live all over the world. All told, the insects produce somewhere between 5 and 19 percent of global methane emissions per year.
9. NOT ALL ANIMALS FART.
Octopuses don’t fart, nor do other sea creatures like soft-shell clams or sea anemones. Birds don’t, either. Meanwhile, sloths may be the only mammal that doesn’t fart, according to the book (although the case for bat farts is pretty tenuous). Having a belly full of trapped gas is ᴅᴀɴɢᴇʀous for a sloth. If things are working normally, the methane produced by their gut bacteria is absorbed into their ʙʟᴏᴏᴅstream and eventually breathed out.