Passing gas may be an indelicate matter for humans, but for at least one species, farts are a means of communication. Researchers have studied the farting habits of Atlantic and Pacific herring, which make high-frequency sounds by forcing air out of their anuses to “talk” to each other in the dark. The farts encourage other fish to cozy up as the group bunks down for the night. It’s a flatulent friendly environment that humans, who have been known to emit bed-clearing farts, just don’t share.
And, while we don’t use flatulence to communicate like these finned farters, everyone, from glamorous celebrities to powerful politicos, passes gas. In fact, the average person farts between 10 and 20 times a day . A fart is a potent mixture of swallowed air and bacterial byproducts that ferment in the intestine. These byproducts — nitrogen (59 percent), hydrogen (21 percent), carbon dioxide (9 percent), methane (7 percent) and oxygen (4 percent) — combine to create a flammable gas that is heavier than air and, because of the hydrogen sulfide, contains a scent that is sometimes reminiscent of a rotten egg. Even so, all farts don’t smell the same because of the varying amounts of bacteria and yeast in each person’s