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Medicine LibreTexts

11.14: Large Intestine

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  • The large intestine consists of the caecum, colon and rectum. The chyme from the small intestine that enters the colon consists mainly of water and undigested material such as cellulose (fibre or roughage). In omnivores like the pig and humans the main function of the colon is absorption of water to give solid faeces. Bacteria in this part of the gut produce vitamins B and K.

    The caecum, which forms a dead-end pouch where the small intestine joins the large intestine, is small in pigs and humans and helps water absorption. However, in rabbits, rodents and horses, the caecum is very large and called the functional caecum. It is here that cellulose is digested by micro-organisms. The appendix, a narrow dead end tube at the end of the caecum, is particularly large in primates but seems to have no digestive function.


    • Ruth Lawson (Otago Polytechnic; Dunedin, New Zealand)