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Old 03-27-2012, 11:44 AM United States
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tcraighenry tcraighenry is offline
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Default Chinchilla poop indicates how much it rained

A use for all the poop!

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Chinchilla poop is serving an unlikely purpose in one of the world's driest places, Chile's Atacama Desert. The animals' tiny waste pellets are helping scientists reconstruct the rainfall in the region over the last 14,000 years.

Reconstructing rainfall history of the Atacama can provide important information about how events like La Niña and El Niño affect Chile's rainfall, said Claudio Latorre Hidalgo of the Universidad Catolica de Chile and the Institute of Ecology and Biodiversity in Santiago.

Knowing this is important for predicting the future water supply in Chile. About 98 percent of the population gets its water from sources in the Andes adjacent to the high Atacama.

Chinchillas (more formally called chinchilla rats) and other rodents deposit their waste in "middens," their own personal scrap piles full of local plants and their poop that they glue together with urine, which then crystallizes and soaks up moisture to form a seal.

The dry climate in the Atacama (and elsewhere including the southwest United States) preserves rodent middens for thousands of years. "Anything in the Atacama is preserved very well," said Latorre -- even the bodies of people unfortunate enough to be stranded in the desert more than 100 years ago, and mummies thousands of years old.
More: http://news.discovery.com/earth/chin...all-chile.html
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Old 03-29-2012, 05:36 PM United Kingdom
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Thanks for sharing. Guess we're not the only ones poop watching....
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