Feces

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Feces, faeces, or fæces (see spelling differences) is a waste product from an animal's digestive tract expelled through the anus (or cloaca) during defecation.

Contents

Etymology

The word faeces is the plural of the Latin word fæx meaning "dregs". There is no singular form in the English language, making it a plurale tantum.[1] There are many colloquial terms for feces, of which some are considered profanity (such as shit, crap and turd) while others (such as poo, poop, number two, dookie and doody) are not. Terms such as dung, scat, spoor and droppings are normally used to refer to animal feces.

Stool is a common term normally used in reference to human feces. For example, in medicine to diagnose the presence or absence of a medical condition, a stool sample is sometimes requested for testing purposes. The term "stool" can also be used for that of non-human species.

Ecology

After an animal has digested eaten material, the remains of that material are expelled from its body as waste. Though it is lower in energy than the food it came from, feces may still contain a large amount of energy, often 50% of that of the original food.[2] This means that of all food eaten, a significant amount of energy remains for the decomposers of ecosystems. Many organisms feed on feces, from bacteria to fungi to insects such as dung beetles, which can sense odors from long distances.[3] Some may specialize in feces, while others may eat other foods as well. Feces serve not only as a basic food, but also a supplement to the usual diet of some animals. This is known as coprophagia, and occurs in various animal species such as young elephants eating their mother's feces to gain essential gut flora, or by other animals such as dogs, rabbits, and monkeys.

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