Research suggests that methane from Dinosaurs (meaning Dino-farts) could have warmed the planet eons ago.
While the debate rages over whether current Earth is precipitously growing ever warmer, a team of scientists has found that at the dawn of life on earth Dinosaurs may have caused the earth to warm up just because they … well, there’s no delicate way to put this … they were big time gas bags. Yes, they suggest, Dino-farts warmed up the Earth.
Not all dinosaurs are to blame say the scientists. It’s mostly the Sauropods like the Apatosaurus (once known as Brontosaurus) and Brachiosaurus. When they lived, during the Mesozoic era — from about 250 million years ago until the dinosaurs died out 65 million years ago — the climate was warm and wet. That’s nothing like it is on Earth nowadays.
520 Tons Of Methane
The researchers found that the methane produced by all sauropods across the planet would have been about 520 million tons per year, a number on par with the total amount of methane currently produced by both natural and man-made sources.
The British researchers tried to get an accurate estimate of how much gas these big dinosaurs – but the best they could do was come up with an estimate.
Methane is a natural byproduct of the digestive process of plant eaters, especially in herbivores called ruminants (like cows and camels). The researchers suspect that like ruminants, sauropods would have harbored methane-producing bacteria in their intestines to help digest these fibrous foods. But, there is no way to tell what kind of bacteria lived in the digestive systems of dinosaurs nor what gases they may have emitted. But, the researchers guess that it might have been much the same – at least proportionately – as cows and the like do today.
They used a mathematical model to determine how much gas these plant-eating giants would have eaten.
In their calculations the researchers used middle-of-the-road numbers: 10 sauropods, each weighing 20,000 pounds (9,071 kilograms), could have roamed 1 square kilometer of lush Mesozoic habitats. They found that these 10 sauropods would have contributed 7.6 tons (6.9 tons) of methane every year. Expanding this number to cover the amount of land estimated to be hospitable habitat for these animals (about half the land on Earth at the time), the researchers end up with more than 550 million tons (500 million tons) of methane produced every year.
It makes sense, based on the animal’s huge size, that they would make much more methane per individual than a cow. But, there are several other reasons why these large dinosaurs could have produced so much more gas than modern herbivores.
The animals would have had plenty of plants to eat, because they could reach high and low, and because of the warm climate, there was plenty of vegetation; in addition, these animals had much vaster areas in which to graze.
The real question is, did these dinosaur’s gassy emissions warm the planet? That’s still in doubt, but if we could find a real life Jurassic Park maybe would find out?
Click here for more articles by The Writin’ Cowboy.