For some reason flatulence is intrinsically funny. It’s just methane gas, but kids wet themselves laughing about it, the internet’s full of jokes about it and comedians make a living from it. The Roman Emperor Elagabulus used a whoopee cushion to amuse his guests at his dinner parties, and they’ve sold well ever since. Search eBay Australia and you get 153 hits for whoopee cushions. You can buy 12 for $15.50, free delivery.
You only have to hear someone break wind and it brings a smile to your face. Hit the play button over on the right – you’ll find a variety of types for your listening pleasure.
If Intelligent Design is your thing, you couldn’t help but come to the conclusion that God had a marvelous sense of humour. Releasing gas from the body could have been designed so it was noiseless. But, with the careful placement of two fatty cheeks meeting exactly at the exit of the alimentary canal, you get the beautiful raspberry sound we know and love so well. You can test this: if you hold your cheeks apart while releasing gas there is no noise.
Humans of course are not the only animals with flatulence. In Australia we have 72 million sheep and in New Zealand there are 60 million. Tests have proven that one sheep produces more methane than a bus-load of drunk football fans. Scientists believe the methane gas released by sheep is responsible for the hole in the ozone layer that hovers south of our continent. Some New Zealand farmers have experimented with capturing the methane from sheep with bags attached strategically and using it to power their tractors.
Now we hear that dinosaurs suffered from flatulence. Some reports suggest that it was not a meteor strike that led to the sudden extinction of the dinosaur. Instead it could be that the flatulence of dinosaurs caused their extinction due to the global warming caused by high levels of methane in the atmosphere.
It’s hard to read a report like that, no matter how scientific, without wondering what it must have been like to be near a tyrannosaur when it let one rip.
To finish up, have a look at this video of a comedian who has made quite a good living from flatulence: Mr. Methane. Warning – it’s not for the faint-hearted. Every time I watch it I laugh until the tears run down my legs.