Beans, beans may be the magical fruit — but according to scientists, more than humans go toot. In the latest example of crowdsourced science, researchers are answering the question of #doesitfart on Twitter, satisfying the intellectual curiosity of anyone who’s ever wondered if millipedes pass gas (they do).
If scrolling through Twitter looking for answers to your existential fart questions isn’t your hobby of choice, you can also check out this Google Spreadsheet, which as of Wednesday categorizes the farting habits of 60 animals. The hashtag was created by Dani Rabaiotti, a Ph.D. student affiliated with the Zoological Society of London, and the spreadsheet was kicked off by Nick Caruso, a salamander researcher at the University of Alabama.
While it’s certainly fun to learn that birds don’t fart and snakes do, scientists also see the hashtag as a way to get more people into science.
“I don’t know if animal flatulence questions can serve as a significant gateway to a greater appreciation of biodiversity, but it is always fun to see what captures people’s attention,” David Steen, a snake expert who answered the first #DoesItFar question, tells The Washington Post. “It is at least an opportunity to engage with a larger audience and bring new folks into the conversation.”
So why do some animals fart? Animals that fart do so because of the way that food is broken down in their bodies — their guts contain gas-forming bacteria that helps the breakdown of food. Birds, per Popular Science, have the “anatomical and physical ability to pass gas” but their gastrointestinal track lacks this bacteria.
And an animal that farts is a healthy animal (despite what unhealthy things the methane in farts does to the environment). Researchers believe that food bringing nutrients to the gut, and strong gut flora is what allows us to be physically and psychologically healthy.
But for some animals, farting does a lot more than keep the body well. Herring, for example, release little farts at night that allow the schools of fish to communicate to each other. Meanwhile, the beaded lacewing, a winged insect, farts on termites when it is an infant in order to paralyze and eat them.