Stories tagged grossology

Oct
29
2009

Deer Rumen: Opening up a deer's rumen.
Deer Rumen: Opening up a deer's rumen.Courtesy Kirk Mona
Ever wondered what's inside the stomach of a deer? For those not afraid of some graphic photos, the Twin Cities Naturalist Blog. has posted photos and descriptions of the four parts of a deer's stomach. Here's a quick overview.

  • The Rumen is a fermentation and storage vat. Micro-organisms break down a lot of food in the Rumen so it can be absorbed by the deer but it does not physically break down the food with acid like a human stomach.
  • The Reticulum is basically a filter that allows small particles to pass to the Omasum.
  • The Omasum acts like a sponge that draws off excess water before food is passed to the next step.
  • The Abomasum works like your stomach to break down food with acid so nutrients can be absorbed.

You can see all the photos and read more at Twin Cities Naturalist.

Jun
18
2009

A medical miracle in the making?
A medical miracle in the making?Courtesy nbonzey
If you're one of those people who is easily grossed out, you might want to stop reading this post. Because what I'm about to tell you might make your stomach turn.

In an effort to help heal human wounds, medical researchers have been studying creepy, crawly, flesh-eating maggots. THE SAME wiggly critters that appear in your garbage can, on road kill, and any place where they can find dead meat or rotten food. In case you don't know the maggot life story, eventually these larvae grow-up to become flies, at which point they continue to hang out with garbage. It's not a pretty life, but they don't complain much.

So...what do maggots have to do with medicine?

Well, people have known for a long time that deep or difficult wounds (ulcers, burns, deep lacerations) heal much faster if you enlist maggots for a little help. In fact, hospitals even breed fly larvae (maggots!) so they can apply "maggot therapy" to wounds that would otherwise heal poorly. As gross as it sounds, this technique actually works well. The maggots eat the decaying tissue, preventing bacterial growth and helping to keep the wound "clean" so it can heal better.

Until recently, researchers were not exactly sure how these maggots did their miracle work on wounds, or how they could make maggot therapy more accessible. What they've discovered is that an enzyme produced by the maggots can itself help to remove decaying tissue. You can read more about it here.

This means that new bandages infused with maggot juice, or maggot ointment, might not be far from drugstore shelves. The enzyme appears to help heal wounds large and small, and with very few side effects. I wonder if upset stomach is one of them?

What do you think - would you buy a maggot-based product to help heal cuts and scrapes?

Jun
15
2005

This would make a nice companion to Animal Grossology: scientists at the Monterey Bay Aquarium have discovered that a major source of food at the bottom of the ocean is -- are your ready for this? -- giant balls of snot. Apparently, some surface creatures spin webs of mucous, like spider webs. These get filled with debris and sink to the bottom, where they feed bottom-dwelling creatures.

All together now: ewwwww! Ick!