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Why do some herbivores like sheep, cow, and others excrete feces in a pellet (or biscuit or other) shape, while other species including humans do not do so? What is the reason for such an adaptation in herbivores? Is it beneficial to them, and if so, how?

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  • $\begingroup$ perhaps there is role of microbes as well as whole process of digestion. $\endgroup$ – Always Confused Sep 17 '16 at 6:05
  • $\begingroup$ Goats are also herbivores but their dung is bead like, and not soft as cow-dung $\endgroup$ – Always Confused Sep 19 '16 at 11:55
  • $\begingroup$ I think it has something to do with how the different animals move the feces with peristalsis $\endgroup$ – user27740 Dec 11 '16 at 8:35
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I don't think it is an adaption, but the that diet plays a dominant role. The feces of cows in intensively fertilized agricultural fields, with grasses rich in protein, has no shape at all. See picture below. enter image description here

The feces of cows in natural areas has much more structure. (image has copyright, so can only link)

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  • $\begingroup$ Please have the courtesy to explain your downvote?! $\endgroup$ – RHA Dec 11 '16 at 15:39
  • $\begingroup$ Because it's shit .... sorry, couldn't resist. I didn't know that the shape differs that much within cows, but it makes sense now that I think about it. +1 Maybe the downvote results from the fact that this is just anecdotal evidence given from two pictures (which doesn't tell much). Maybe you should present some more evidence. $\endgroup$ – AlexDeLarge Dec 12 '16 at 16:45
  • $\begingroup$ @AlexDeLarge Shitty subject indeed :-). My answer is based on +-20 years of field expierence, the pictures are just supportive illustrations. Unfortunately, many people here seem to think that a wikipedia ref is more reliable. I'll see what I can dig up. $\endgroup$ – RHA Dec 12 '16 at 18:26

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