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SYFY WIRE biology

Cheeky! We can’t actually talk out of our butt, but new study shows some mammals can breathe out of them

By Vanessa Armstrong
A nice looking pig

We all know that certain, specific-smelling gases can come out of a butt. A new study, however, shows that some mammals can absorb gases through them as well.

In a study published in Med, senior study author Takanori Takebe found that rats, mice, and pigs who undergo “enteral ventilation via anus” (EVA for short) are able to take up oxygen via their intestines.

That’s right — at least some mammals can breathe through their butts, albeit only when a liquid form of oxygen is administered to them. 

Butt-breathing isn’t something new to nature — scientists already knew that a bottom-dwelling freshwater fish called a loach uses intestinal breathing on the reg. Mammals don’t seem to have this ability on their own, unfortunately, but the EVA process used in the study shows that rodents and pigs, at least, can absorb oxygen this way as well.

The fun of using the phrase “butt-breathing” aside, the study does have significant implications for those suffering from respiratory failure, something that has become an even larger issue during the Covid-19 pandemic when oxygen and respirators were sometimes in short supply. This EVA process could be another tool to bring oxygen to someone who is hypoxic and potentially save lives.

More research has to be done, however, until the process can be approved for human use: “despite remarkable short-term safety demonstrated in preclinical animal studies, it is critical to evaluate safety in humans before the approach is broadly applied in clinics,” the study said. In the meantime, we'll have to abide by the (hopefully) regular functions our butt provides us. 

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