Scientists Turned Their Own Frozen Poop Into Knives

In his 1998 book Shadows in the Sun: Travels to Landscapes of Spirit and Desire, anthropologist Wade Davis attempts to illustrate the underestimated brilliance of Inuit people by relating the tale of a resourceful old man who defied his family by living on ice instead of moving to a settlement. Determined to force his wrinkly hand, his family took all his tools. Unbeknownst to them, this wily Inuit’s sharpest tools were in his skull and in his colon, and one of those tools would soon emerge from its fleshy shed. As recounted by Wade, “in the middle of a winter gale, he stepped out of their igloo, defecated, and honed the feces into a frozen blade, which he sharpened with a spray of saliva.”

The Inuit used his dookie dagger to slaughter a dog, turned his victim’s rib cage into a sled, and attached it to another dog that towed him away. This story raises so many questions, like, “Did the second dog intentionally pull the sled, or was it just frantically trying to escape from what must have looked like an excretory warlock who magically excretes knives and slays canines?” Also, if it’s so easy to shape your poop into a shiv, then why shouldn’t the Inuit’s family have already known that and made sure he was constipated before confiscating his tools? Most importantly, can you actually use a saliva-sharpened poop-sickle to slice through meat like a hot knife through butter?

Like a cold knife through butt

Speaking with LiveScience, Metin Eren, director of the Eren Laboratory of Experimental Archaeology at Kent State University, said this gross anecdote about a man killing a canine in the cold with a self-made doo-doo blade inspired him to become an anthropologist. Obviously not content with letting sleeping dogs lie, he decided to investigate whether a blade made of feces could feasibly put a dog to sleep. To prepare for the experiment, Eren spent eight days on an “arctic diet” consisting of foods rich in protein and fatty acids. Once his feces reached a consistency that seemed consistent with Inuit poop, his colleagues froze it to a bone-chilling negative-58 degrees Fahrenheit (negative-50 degrees Celsius).

After sharpening the poop with metal files investigators tried to slice through a refrigerated pig hide. Eren was apparently impressed by the hardness of his turds, remarking, “I was surprised at how hard human feces could get when frozen. I started to think, ‘Oh my gosh, this might actually work!'” It didn’t. In his words, “Like a crayon, it just left brown streaks on the meat.” Next, study collaborator Michelle Bebber gave it ago, presumably to rule out the possibility that Eren was a defective defecator. Alas, her ice deuce also didn’t cut the mustard, which in this case was pork. So it appears that Eren’s anthropology career was founded on a lie. But even if crappy knives probably can’t kill a dog, they produced a study with a killer title: “Experimental replication shows knives manufactured from frozen human feces do not work.”

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