Game Time: What a Pig’s Guts and Euro 2016 Have in Common

21 June 2016, at 12:00am

GLOBAL - We might think of skin as being the surface barrier between an animal and the outside world, but we need to consider also a much larger surface: the gut wall.

Soccer pitch sized battle ground

The surface area of a healthy mature pig’s intestine can approach the size of a small soccer field. This is due to the finger-like projections, or villi, throughout most of the intestinal system and the microvilli on the surface cells of the villi.

Healthy villi and microvilli can multiply the surface area by a factor of well over 1000. The extensive surface area of the gut wall is a constant battle zone under attack from harmful microbes trying to break through. In fact, the gut wall is the largest organ (and front line) of the animal’s immune system.