06 January 2008

Learned fact of the day...Koala Pap

So I was in tourist mode today, and visited the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary just outside Brisbane. In addition to getting to hold a koala, I went to the koala talk and learned that young koalas when making the transition from milk to eucalyptus leaves feed on pap...

"From about 22 to 30 weeks, it begins to feed upon a substance called "pap" which the mother produces in addition to milk. Pap is a specialised form of faeces, or droppings, which forms an important part of the young koala's diet, allowing it to make the transition from milk to eucalyptus leaves, rather like a human baby is fed "mushy" food when it starts to eat solids. Pap is soft and runny and thought to come from the caecum. It allows the mother to pass on micro-organisms present in her own digestive system which are essential to the digestion of eucalyptus leaves, and is a rich source of protein."
(From the Australian Koala Foundation)

I'm a botanist, so I can't say I think very much about the inner workings of animals. But hearing about koala pap got me thinking about all animals that need bacteria in their guts necessary to digest foods and how they get there. I know rabbits eat their poo as a form of double digestion so I'm sure young rabbits just do the same but I had to look up how baby cows get their bacteria. It seems just through skin/udder contact from their moms. This seems to be how human babies get their gut flora as well.

Just thought I'd share my insights into gut flora, although does this qualify as pop culture? Probably not, though I did learn about pap from a popular tourist destination.

1 comment:

Jessica M. Budke said...

Hey Amy,
I am also traveling at the moment. I am on a field course in Costa Rica. During discussions science blogging came up. One of the gals told me that there is a science magazine started by the same people who started ScienceBlogs. It is called Seeds and is on the web at the following address http://seedmagazine.com/

It looks like it could be a great place to get ideas for your blog.

Happy Travels!