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« Not an Onion article | Main | Wake up and smell the 90s »

Desert Candy Is A Lie

In 1849, hungry gold miners crossing the Nevada desert noticed some glistening balls of a candy-like substance on a cliff, licked or ate the balls, and discovered them to be sweet-tasting, but then they developed nausea. Eventually it was realized that the balls were hardened deposits made by small rodents, called packrats, that protect themselves by building nests of sticks, plant fragments, and mammal dung gathered in the vicinity, plus food remains, discarded bones, and their own feces. Not being toilet-trained, the rats urinate in their nests, and sugar and other substances crystallize from their urine as it dries out, cementing the midden to a brick-like consistency. In effect, the hungry gold miners were eating dried rat urine laced with rat feces and rat garbage.

From Collapse by Jared Diamond, which is a very interesting book and mostly not about Rat Piss Gobstoppers (the packrat deposits are a way that archaeologists are able to determine what the climate and vegetation was like at various points during the Anasazi civilization).

By fnord12 | April 17, 2017, 9:32 AM | Boooooks