The wonderful, magical anus

The BBC has an article on the biology of the anus. It really is a useful organ.

I did not know that there were scorpions that shed their tails as part of an escape response (wait, I did know that part) but that when their cuticle healed, the anal opening scarred over so they are constipated for the rest of their life. That was the most tragically horrible thing I’ve ever heard.


  1. inflection says

    I have for some time wished to know the average mass of the typical human corrugator cutis ani, to compare to average human body mass.

    After all, we’re all at least a little bit a**hole. I wish I could say how much, on average.

  2. nichrome says

    If you’ve ever had your anus malfunction, you are keenly aware of how useful it is.

  3. dick says

    There’s an evolutionary conundrum here. If scorpions evolved a response to escape predation, but can’t reproduce afterwards, what use is it in terms of natural selection? Do they spend their remaining time looking after their offspring? I wouldn’t have thought so. I can’t imagine they have maternal or paternal instincts. Maybe I’m wrong.

  4. says

    Apparently males have a final shot at true romance:

    After autotomy, scorpions do not defecate and can only capture small prey items. However, males can survive and mate successfully for up to eight months in the laboratory.

    Same source says it’s less common in females, which is to be expected if the female has no chance of reproducing. Of course I know zip-all about scorpion reproduction so don’t quote me.

  5. says

    Indeed. The saddest thing about being a cnidarian is lack of an anus. Once we got that triploblastic thing going, with a gut, life became much sweeter.

  6. kevinalexander says

    If you’ve ever had your anus malfunction, you are keenly aware of how useful it is.

    I was on painkillers for a week for a broken ankle and mine stopped working. When the drugs ran out it started up again. I swear I whelped a ten pound limbaugh , it was the most painful experience of my life.

  7. says

    A parable.

    After the First Person was formed, all of the body parts got together to decide who would be in charge. “I am the thinker,” said the brain. “I provide nutrition,” said the stomach. “Well, I move us around,” said the legs. “But we’re the ones who get things done,” said the hands. “You wouldn’t know what to do if I didn’t show you,” said the eyes.

    One after another, all of the parts proclaimed that they should be in charge. Into that chaos, the rectum spoke, saying that it could do the job. Suddenly, there was silence as the quarreling parts stood in shock at the very idea. Then they started laughing. And laughing. And laughing.

    So, the rectum went on strike. Before too long, the brain was foggy and the stomach was queasy. They eyes had trouble focusing, the hands were unsteady and the legs could barely keep everything upright. So, by unanimous vote, the body put the rectum in charge.

    Moral: It does not take intellect to be the boss, nor a clear vision, or the ability to get things done. One only needs to be an ass hole.

  8. M can help you with that. says

    Well, you know what they say — everybody has one, some people are one.

  9. says

    There’s nothing quite like arriving at the hospital at 7 pm with a total bowel obstruction and having to wait until morning before they can even give you anything for pain, because the doctor won’t be in until then.
    So they spend all night telling you your screams and groans are keeping the other patients awake while the poor guy in the other bed tries to coach and calm you through the night.

    But its all worth it when around 11 am the next morning they see the blockage on the screen and you get to see the look of horror on their faces before they rush you into the ER.

    (actually, come to think of it, it’s not really worth it.)

  10. Trebuchet says

    I had an AWESOME post all up on this, but when I hit “enter”, the FTB site was down again. As it’s been off and on for the past couple of days. Grrrr…..

    Like #7, I had a “minor” accident and the painkillers totally shut down my GI system. No fun. Four or five extra days in the hospital. “NPO” over your bed is something you don’t want to see.

    I actually refrain from using the word “asshole” to refer to people who annoy me because, as PZ says, it’s a useful organ.

  11. komarov says

    Yeees, wonderful article, although it doesn’t really answer the question of the anus. Where does it come from, where does it (sometimes) go? I guess we’ll have to wait for the scientists to finish before we get a sequel and – maybe – an answer. I certainly admire their optimism:

    “Maybe our research can contribute to change the discourse about the subject and communicate about it more openly.”

    I’d be very surprised to see a few papers have that much of an impact. A Nobel acceptance speech maybe, but that’s decades away. (That video clip would be guaranteed to go viral…)

    Mind you, I was offended by this article about the anus. Ending it with a flipping cat picture is a disgrace. The BBC should know better. I shudder to think how much bandwidth is wasted on bloody cat pictures. There should be a law, or something. Maybe those Christians afflicted with excessive fevour could spring into action and do something about this very real (and serious) problem. No idols, et cetera. At least they’d be doing something useful.

    Re: Gregory in Seattle, #8

    I dimly remember from history class a Roman senator supposedly telling a very similar story to the farmers. In the early days when Rome was but a city state the peasents were feeling rather rebellious.* They had to do the hard labour while the senate and nobles would live in comfort. Only in the senator’s version of the fable it was the brain being starved. But with regard to politicians the anal version might work just as well.

    *As opposed to any other time in the entire history of the Roman Empire, naturally.

  12. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    *eyes light up*

    ….oh. >.>

    thanks for sharing.

    Don’t let having a whole post just for you go to your head.

  13. randay says

    I remember someone say, “There is nothing so overrated as good sex and nothing so underrated as a good shit.” Comparing the number of times we have each, that is probably right.

  14. dannysichel says

    It’s a valuable muscle / near the base of the spine / and I know I’d be sorry / if I ever lost mine / but it stinks / ’cause it’s always fulla shit all the time.

    — Jim’s Big Ego

  15. caseloweraz says

    An old joke. (I’ve reproduced the dialect, but replaced one word with “poop.”)

    Two young African-American boys were discussing what was the meanest animal in the whole world. One mentioned lions and tigers. No, said the other. The meanest animal in the world is the crocogator.

    “What’s that?” asked his friend.

    “The crocogator have the head of an alligator on one end, and the head of a crocodile on the other. He be able to bite you with either end. Nothin’ be meaner.”

    His friend was impressed. But then a thought occurred. “Wait a minute. If he have a head on each end, how do he poop?”

    “He don’t! That be why he so mean!”

  16. kellyw. says

    What the fuck kind of joke is that, caseloweraz? You think the word shit is offensive so you replace it with poop, yet you have no problem posting a stereotypical racist joke?