Ark: Survival Evolved is a shitty game. Literally. You might think it’s about dinosaurs and blowing stuff up, but no. The real star of the show is this guy: the humble poop. Let’s explore all the wonderful ways poop brightens up the harsh world of this survival game.

Whatever you want to do in Ark—topple the alpha tribe in PvP, spelunk for artifacts in monster-infested caves, build the most fabulous base, or even just survive—it all eventually comes back to poo, the sticky brown foundation of your survival experience. Why? Because survival requires efficiency, efficiency requires dinosaurs, and dinosaurs require poop. Which Ark is happy to provide in bulk.

Poop in Ark, just like in real life, is the magic ingredient that turns a handful of seeds into a thriving vegetable garden. Vegetables, in turn, are the magic ingredient inside every lump of kibble. And why do you want kibble? Because taming times in Ark—that is, how long it takes you to turn a wild beast into a domesticated pet—are entirely dependent on the food you use. It takes nearly nine hours to tame a max level T. rex with raw meat, but with scorpion kibble, it’ll take just under two. In other words, break out those crop plots and bring on the poo.

Luckily, you can find poo everywhere in Ark. It plops out of wild creatures, it plops out of tamed creatures, it plops out of you. Poo comes in different shapes, sizes, and consistencies, as determined by the anus of origin, it can be used to keep your organic Plant X turrets alive, and you can stick it in your mouth and eat it too! Sure, it’ll kill you, but it’s super handy if you’re irretrievably stuck down a hole—hence the term “suicide poo,” a.k.a. “eat shit and die.”

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Of course, crops grow best in Ark if they’re given actual, proper fertilizer. Troglodytes or starter survivors can make fertilizer by mixing poop and thatch in a compost bin, but it’s a painfully slow process. Experienced excrement experts prefer to enlist the services of a friendly dung beetle: Stick a poop in a beetle and it’ll be fired back out as fertilizer in no time. The bigger the poo you put in, the more fertilizer comes back to you!

There are actually five types of poo in Ark:

  • Human: Tiny and shiny, barely a Type 2 on the Bristol stool chart.
  • Small: Larger and lumpier.
  • Medium: Has some heft to it!
  • Large: Almost alarming in its size.
  • Massive: Horrifyingly gargantuan.

A comparison chart, you say? Sure.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: How can I get my hands on the king of crap, that sweet, sweet massive poo? Well, it doesn’t just fall out of any old butthole. If you want one, you’ll need to stand betwixt a Titanosaur’s legs, brace yourself for impact, and hope the shitty concussion doesn’t kill you.

Oh, that’s me and my newfound massive poo, safe and sound! I’m the one in the underpants.

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Did I also mention that poop in Ark is magical? Seriously: a large storage box in Ark can seemingly hold up to 45 poos simultaneously. But look - take one out and everything we ever thought we understood to be true about the nature of the universe goes out the window.

How can 45 of those (L) fit into that box (R)? It is a mystery best not explained.

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The magic doesn’t stop there, though. Remember that friendly dung beetle I mentioned earlier? Well, after a bit of experimentation, I managed to squeeze six large poops into mine at once, and here’s the Before of that process. Now imagine if someone tried to squeeze six large poops into you.

Poop in Ark isn’t just magical though; sometimes it’s downright alarming. This little fella here is the Megaloceros, or in modern-day parlance, a reindeer.

If you’ve ever questioned Ark developer Wildcard’s grip on basic biology, here, in one impossibly expanding sphincter, is everything you need to know. At least we finally discovered what makes Rudolph’s nose glow.

Unbelievably though, that’s a mild inconvenience compared to the suffering of the pig-like Phiomia. These things won’t stop shitting for two seconds normally, but if you force feed them a delicious Stimberry, it’s like a subway turnstile in rush hour.

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Yet, for all this, there’s one area of Ark still lacking where poop is concerned. Let me demonstrate: The hideous and also very enormous beast below is the Tusoteuthis, or “giant squid” if you prefer. (Note that it shouldn’t be out of water - I just had an accident with the ‘spawn’ command.)

Now, how much poop do you think comes out of this big guy? Clue: the answer is “zero”. Amazingly, given Ark’s predilection for poop, marine life doesn’t defecate at all in-game, which makes you wonder: how long can a fish survive until it swells up and explodes like a shit-filled sea-balloon?

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I contacted Wildcard to find out the reason for Ark’s negligence in the realm of aquatic expulsions. According to lead designer Jeremy Stieglitz, it’s because realistic sea poop is just too damn hard to represent as a single item in-game.

“In the case of fish,” says Stieglitz, “it tends to be a long thin strand. In the case of certain marine mammals like whales, it looks like a big blast of dirty water. Either way, it would be difficult to properly represent in-game as something the player could interact with.” So there you go: no dirty blasts of whale poop for Ark now, or in the foreseeable future.

It’s not all bad news for anal emission lovers, however. While we were chatting about sea shit, Stieglitz also let slip that working toilets will be coming to Ark’s v258 update, currently scheduled to arrive on May 29. “How can you possibly consider your Tribe ‘civilized’ until it has indoor plumbing?!” he said.

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To complement the toilet, a new poop-o-meter is being added to Ark’s HUD. When it appears, you know that your butthole is about to blow, so dash on over to your throne (which you hopefully had the foresight to connect to a water pipe), sit down, then press the ‘defecate’ key. When you’re done, stand up and flush, and your BM will be converted into a sizable quantity of compost. You’ll even get a special post-expulsion ‘refreshed’ status XP boost.

And before we pinch this story closed, here’s one more thing you might be wondering: Pee? Stieglitz tells me that there was, at one stage in development, significant debate around whether Ark’s player characters should urinate as well as defecate. Ultimately, however, the team decided against it, on the grounds that a flailing stream of pee wouldn’t look good “on the move.”

Poop, on the other hand, looked just fine.