Monday, June 30, 2008

My First Reality Show?

Okay so this probably isn't what you would have guessed but tonight I ended up watching an episode of "All About Dung". I'll have you know it was actually interesting once I got over the ick factor.

Bet you didn't know there are labs with boxes upon boxes upon boxes of stored dried dung and experts that can identify all on sight. They even have prehistoric mammoth dung. Studying the samples reveals a lot about environmental conditions of the time.

As part of the African dung safari, they did a segment on beetles. In one heap of rhino dung there were over 150 different species of dung beetles. Some burrow to feast while others roll the balls off the their lairs. The rolling ones can grow to be too big to fit in your fist and are strong enough to move something 40 times their own weight long distances which they put into perspective by having the host attempt to roll the safari wagon, fully loaded with guides and crew. He couldn't budge it. My question about this - why do all the rhinos go in the same spot?

Another interesting tidbit for you...Elephants have 62 feet of intestines and produce enough dung to fill an average car trunk daily. But, since they only absorb about 40% of the nutrients they ingest, it's highly fertile and makes up for the destruction they cause as they graze.

One of the biggest dung heaps in the natural world is in a cave in South America. It was formed by eons of birds and bats contributing to it. Seriously, this thing looked like a glacier. It was over 100 feet high at the peak and the whole darn pile was teeming with creepy crawlies. The host dug a few shovels worth just to show that the entire mound was alive. The host was sinking in up over his boots. I was itching just watching because I'm certain some of them ended up in the boots with him.

There was a family in England in the 1700's that mined guano on islands off the coast of Peru. They ended up incredibly wealthy. The workers? Conditions on the islands were so bad there is record of 342 Chinamen linking arms and walking into the sea to die rather than continue to use pickaxes on the centuries old build-up in order to shovel it into bags. And you thought you had a shitty job. Hey, quit groaning. You had to know that would be in here somewhere.

Did you know there are acutally restaurants that serve food and coffee that has been collected from dung? A few ounces of the coffee beans that have passed through a civet costs $650, Apparently passing through the cat destroys some of the coffee beans' natural bacteria thus giving it a mellower flavor. Another odd edible comes from tree-climbing goats. They eat fresh nuts straight from the trees which are then processed by the goat, collected from the ground and squeezed into an oil to be used on salads, much like olive oil. Um, nope, neither is a trend I think I'll need to indulge in.

One last thing and then I'm done with this one. The expression "sitting on the throne" comes from King Louis XIII. He had a thing about defecating in public so he had his throne modified to double as a toilet. When making proclamations and seeing those seeking audience it was not unusual for him to drop trou and go about doing his business. French aristocracy, go figure.

Imagine, spending your life traveling the world to research all things dung. There are lots of weird occupations that I wouldn't mind taking a stab at but this is definitely not one of them.


Molly Daniels said...

Maybe you ought to send this to Mike Rowe...a 'dirty job' for him to look into, perhaps??

Anny Cook said...

As I was reading this, I was thinking of that scene in Jurassic Park where the blond actress had on those lonnng plastic gloves and dug into that pile of dinosaur dung....

Regina Carlysle said...

Oh Wow...It's fascinating and strange that you actually watched this...snicker. Can you imagine working in this field and someone asks what you do? Oh...I'm an expert on shit.

Very funny.

Amarinda Jones said...

Uh huh....

Dakota Rebel said...

Oh honey...gross. LOL. I cannot believe you sat and watched a whole show about...dung.

That is why I love you so very much. But...ick. LOL.


barbara huffert said...

It was one of those weird fascinations. Once I started watching I couldn't stop because there were some interesting tidbits to share with all of you.

Jude Mason said...


Well, I just read your post and it's fascinating, in some weird kind of way. I missed this show and you know, I'm not sure if I'm happy about it or not. I do like the idea of sending this info the Mike Rowe, that show is a hoot.

Thanks for the info... I think... LOL