Too much to stomach
Musings are thoughts, the thoughtful kind. For the purpose of these articles, a-musings are thoughts that might amuse, entertain and even enlighten.
Ahare ran across the road in front of our car today, and my wife, for some unfathomable reason, told me that hares do not have an appendix, which set my mind a-rambling. Musings often ramble; this one certainly does, but you know how it is: One thing leads to another, so here goes. According to The Guinness Book of Records the longest human appendix ever recorded measured 10.24 inches when it was removed from 72-year-old Safranco August during an autopsy in Zagreb in 2006. The fact that its owner was dead did not affect the appendix's claim to fame. Now, as you well know, the physiologic function of the appendix is not clearly established. The vermiform appendix is a tube that connects to the cecum, a structure of the colon that resembles a pouch, close to the junction of the large intestine and the small intestine; this is so, whether you're interested or not.
In Latin, the term "vermiform" means worm-shaped. Usually, it is located on the right side of the abdomen in the lower quadrant. Blockage of the appendix can lead to appendicitis, a type of inflammation that is painful and potentially deadly. A blocked appendix may burst, releasing dangerous bacteria into the abdominal cavity. You might be interested to hear that appendicitis is usually treated by the surgical removal of the appendix through a procedure called an appendectomy.
You might also be interested to hear, though you might wonder ‘why now?' (and I have no logical explanation) that a hare is born with open eyes and a full coat of fur; a hare also has a different tail from the rabbit. The hare does not have a stomach with three or four chambers, as is typical for all animals that chew the cud. However, it does chew the cellulose food twice, so that the nutrients not consumed the first time are eventually digested. To do this the hare excretes two different kinds of droppings: normal excrement and another kind of pellet, called Cecotroph, which it eats. As soon as the Cecotroph is well chewed and swallowed it is collected in the stomach to be digested a second time. It's really amazing to think of all the ways the creator came up with to dispose of droppings. The Cecotroph is rich in Vitamin B1 which is important for the hare's nourishment. So the hare chews the food twice and, as in all ruminating cloven-hoofed animals, bacteria break down the cellulose.
The book of Leviticus tells us that it is forbidden to eat hare. "Whatever divides the hoof, and is cloven-footed, chewing the cud, among the animals, that you shall eat . . . And the hare, because he chews the cud but does not divide the hoof; he is unclean to you." Hares have clearly been around a long time.
Jesus and His Apostles declared in Mark 7:18-19 that all foods were ‘clean'. “Are you so dull?” he asked. “Don't you see that nothing that enters a person from the outside can defile them? For it doesn't go into their heart but into their stomach, and then out of the body.” (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean). Again, in Acts 10: 10-15: “And he became hungry and wanted something to eat, but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance and saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth. In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air. And there came a voice to him: 'Rise, Peter; kill and eat.' But Peter said, 'By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.' And the voice came to him again a second time, 'What God has made clean, do not call common.'"
Animals that ‘chew the cud' are called ruminants. They scarcely chew their food when eaten the first time round but swallow it into a special stomach where it is partially digested. Then it is regurgitated, chewed again, and swallowed into a different stomach. Animals that do this include cows, sheep and goats; they all have multiple stomachs. Hares are not ruminants in this sense. Hares practise refection, which is essentially the same principle as rumination. The food goes right through the animal, is passed out as a special type of dropping, is re-eaten, and provides nourishment.
Another name for this refection is cecotrophy because the material is taken in a pouch at the beginning of the large intestine called the cecum or ‘blind gut', where bacteria help digest the food by breaking down cellulose into simple sugars. Please note that cecotrophy is very different from coprophagy, which is eating dung, practised by pigs, and occasionally by dogs.
They say the more things change, the more they remain the same. Politicians come and politicians go, but the problems remain the same. So the questions are, Dear Reader, do we put up with our politicians serving us coprophagic dung devoid of nourishment, or do we demand a cecotrophic feast that offers recycled goodness and energy? Given the choice between political porcine and fleet-footed leporine, which do we choose? I warned you that this one was a bit of a ramble!