A poop by any other name is still a poop, but scientists are proposing a new name to describe the science of stool: in fimo. If it sticks, we might need to get used to hearing the phrase more often. The proposal, recently published in the journal Gastroenterology and first reported by Science News, calls for a new name for the experimental investigations of poop. Lead author Aadra Bhatt is an assistant professor at the UNC School of Medicine who studies cancer and the interaction between bacteria, drugs, and the gut. That means that she needs to study poop and the stuff inside it. But when she was writing up a research study, she discovered that she didn’t have the right words to describe those experiments. She could use terms like in vitro to describe experiments in a test tube or dish and in vivo to describe experiments in living things, but she was stuck when she needed to describe the more poop-oriented parts of her research. “I kept having to use multiple words: ‘We studied fecal extracts from mice,’” she says. “I wanted to come up with a new catch-all phrase.” So she teamed up with structural biologist Matt Redinbo and classics scholar Luca Grillo, and turned to Latin, the source for those other shorthands in biology. They discovered that Latin has a surprising number of words for poop. “Romans were farmers, and when it came to manure they were second to no one,” the paper says. They weighed… [Read full story]
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