Cream? Sugar? Poop?
Among the other things you’ll learn at the Sloan Museum’s latest exhibit, “The Scoop on Poop,” is that the most expensive coffee in the world, before it was ever roasted, first passed through the colon of an Indonesian mammal called the palm civet. That is to say, if that wasn’t clear, that it pooped it out, according to The Flint Journal.
Palm civets have a thing for the berry of the coffee tree, the seed of which is commonly known as the coffee bean. The bean cannot be digested with the rest of the berry. And so, in goes the berry, and out comes the bean, which is then meticulously collected, cleaned and then roasted and served.
Costing $175 a pound, it’s not likely you’ve bought the beans yourself. However, according to the literature at Sloan, the coffee has a “rich” and “musky” flavor.
That’s just one thing you’ll learn at the Sloan exhibit.
“There’s a lot of life’s aspects you can look at through poop,” said Todd Slisher, executive director at Sloan.
That’s the whole idea of the exhibit. Sure, scientists can use poop to see what an animal has been eating, and it’s fun to be able to identify different kinds of droppings (there’s an interactive quiz at the exhibit), but there’s a lot more to poop than that.
For example, take the ancient curse of the tombs in ancient Egypt.
For years, it was known that upon entering ancient tombs, some archaeologists and looters would hallucinate and become ill, and so it must be the work of ancient spirits _ right?
Nope. Just poop. Over about 3,000 years, bats can leave a lot of poop lying around, and that’s enough time for some fungus to grow and give any visitors a good ol’ case of histoplasmosis.
If you’re a science nerd, that’s cooler than any ancient mystery. In fact, you don’t need to be a science nerd to appreciate poop. It’s fascinating all by itself. People burn poop for fuel, cover their huts in “poop plaster” to keep rain out, and can turn elephant poop into paper. People sculpt poop. In Wisconsin, you can enter contests to see how far you can throw cow poop. There are creatures — moths, spiders, frogs, and others — whose natural camouflage is looking like a little turd.
Who can resist?
Not kids, said Slisher, which was part of the idea behind bringing “The Scoop on Poop,” inspired by the children’s book of the same name, to Sloan.
“It’s a fun exhibit. It’s aimed at an audience we’re trying to target,” he said, meaning kids, anywhere from 4 years old to teens.
He said so far the exhibit, which runs until Sept. 6, has been drawing community and school groups. It also fits into their summer programming with classes like “Dino Poop Camp,” in which children get to pick through some 65-million-year-old prehistoric poop to conduct experiments.
So far, Slisher said, he’s been pleased with the response to it. And that’s good because, as Olivia Kushuba, marketing and special events assistant said, “Poop is such a touchy subject.”
In fact, there was some worry among staff before the exhibit arrived, about how it might smell.
Luckily, the museum still just smells like a museum.
“We were very thankful,” she said.
Published through the AP member exchange.