Gases From Flatulent Dinosaurs May Have ‘Warmed The Earth’

Giant dinosaurs could have warmed the planet with their flatulence, say researchers.

British scientists have calculated the methane output of sauropods, including the species known as Brontosaurus. By scaling up the digestive wind of cows, they estimate that the population of dinosaurs – as a whole – produced 520 million tonnes of gas annually. They suggest the gas could have been a key factor in the warm climate 150 million years ago.

David Wilkinson from Liverpool John Moore’s University, and colleagues from the University of London and the University of Glasgow published their results in the journal Current Biology. Sauropods, such as Apatosaurus louise (formerly known as Brontosaurus), were super-sized land animals that grazed on vegetation during the Mesozoic Era. For Dr Wilkinson, it was not the giants that were of interest but the microscopic organisms living inside them.


Methane is known as a “greenhouse gas” that absorbs infrared radiation from the sun, trapping it in the Earth’s atmosphere and leading to increased temperatures.

Previous studies have suggested that the Earth was up to 10C (18F) warmer in the Mesozoic Era. With the knowledge that livestock emissions currently contribute a significant part to global methane levels, the researchers used existing data to estimate how sauropods could have affected the climate. Their calculations considered the dinosaurs’ estimated total population and used a scale that links biomass to methane output for cattle.

Current methane emissions amount to around 500 million tonnes a year from a combination of natural sources, such as wild animals, and human activities including dairy and meat production. Expressing his surprise at the comparative figures, Dr Wilkinson added that dinosaurs were not the sole producers of methane at the time.

Do you think that the dinosaurs’ flatulence created that much effect in the Earth’s climate back then? Tell us what you think!

Source: Digg Science

Image: Mirror News

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