Gassy dinos may have warmed Earth

2012-05-07 22:32

Washington - Giant dinosaurs that roamed the Earth millions of years ago may have warmed the planet with the gas they produced from eating leafy plants, British scientists said on Monday.

Much like modern cows that emit a significant amount of methane in their digestive process, the 20 000kg sauropods contributed the same way, and probably more, to the warming climate, said the study in the US journal Current Biology.

The climate during the Mesozoic Era, which spanned 250 million years ago to about 65 million years ago, was believed to be hotter than it is today.

With bulky bodies and long necks that allowed sauropods like the Brontosaurus to graze on grasses or high in the treetops, these creatures were plentiful 150 million years ago, ranging from a few individuals to a few dozen per square kilometre.

In all they may have emitted a total of 520 million tons per year of global methane emissions, a level that is comparable to the total given off today by animals and industrial activities, the study authors said.

Currently 80 million metric tons of methane are produced annually by global livestock, making up about 28% of global methane emissions from human-related activities according to the US Environmental Protection Agency.

"A simple mathematical model suggests that the microbes living in sauropod dinosaurs may have produced enough methane to have an important effect on the Mesozoic climate," said Dave Wilkinson of Liverpool John Moores University.

"Indeed, our calculations suggest that these dinosaurs could have produced more methane than all modern sources - both natural and man-made - put together."

About 150 years ago, before modern industry took hold, methane emissions were about 200 Tg per year, less than half that of the Mesozoic Era.

  • Billy - 2012-05-07 23:21

    and so formed the great flood and noah only had space for small mammals in his arc, thus explaining the extinction of the dinosaurs.

      Denise - 2012-05-08 06:21

      lmfao!! u sure its not my cat? lol seriously, u "scientists" get paid to make up bs like that? LOL!!

      Denise - 2012-05-08 06:23

      mayb u got it all wrong.. mayb the dino's farting caused meteors to shower??

      Preshen - 2012-05-08 09:07

      They came back as petrol

      ludlowdj - 2012-05-08 10:54

      Actually BILLY, the small animals took a vote against letting known farters on board.

  • jazzmatt69 - 2012-05-08 02:21

    There should be a mandatory IQ test in order to be allowed to comment on any story, because as of lately, the absolute sh*t that some (if not most) people are saying is laughable! @Billy - Bible stories are meant for kids to teach them moral values at a young age, leave the stories for the kindergartens. @Pierre - where do I about common sense... If Dinosaurs and humans co-existed (albeit it not millions of years ago as you claim) then do explain how WE managed to dodge the extinction bullet when the dinosaurs didn't? (and PLEASE spare me the 2 animals of every kind on the boat bullsh*t)

      Jean - 2012-05-08 07:50

      @jazzmatt69, hi. firstly, the bible which you so proudly proclaim a childrens story book, has saved millions of souls and will still save countless more. secondly, you dear sir forget, that which man cannot understand he tries to answer through science. God can and never will be understood by the likes of us, our minds cannot grasp such infinite power. May you have a blessed day.

      zane.zeiler - 2012-05-08 08:41

      I still maintain that Media24 should create an extra channel called Religion24 where the feeble minded can discuss their folklore and stay away from the science articles.

      Jean - 2012-05-08 08:56

      @hondbyt, science and religion are very similar. being that through faith people come to understand. in science, the inquisitive mind believes, has faith that it will find answers to questions unanswered. So too in religion. you would rather sling insults than prove a valid point. and those that think like you, i pity.

      zane.zeiler - 2012-05-08 09:13

      @Jean, You have a very distorted view of science and the word 'faith', having faith that I will solve my equation before days end is worlds apart from having faith that my life is governed by a cloud driving zombie...

      Jean - 2012-05-08 09:30

      @hondbyt... and this comes from the dictionary. faith [feyth] Show IPA noun 1. confidence or trust in a person or thing: faith in another's ability. 2. belief that is not based on proof: He had faith that the hypothesis would be substantiated by fact. 3. belief in God or in the doctrines or teachings of religion: the firm faith of the Pilgrims. 4. belief in anything, as a code of ethics, standards of merit, etc.: to be of the same faith with someone concerning honesty. 5. a system of religious belief: the Christian faith; the Jewish faith. 6. the obligation of loyalty or fidelity to a person, promise, engagement, etc.: Failure to appear would be breaking faith. 7. the observance of this obligation; fidelity to one's promise, oath, allegiance, etc.: He was the only one who proved his faith during our recent troubles. 8. Christian Theology . the trust in God and in His promises as made through Christ and the Scriptures by which humans are justified or saved.

      zane.zeiler - 2012-05-08 09:56

      @Jean, I don't know what you're on about but the above insert is from Random House Dictionaries, a company that makes most of their profits from fiction & childrens books... Here is 'faith' according to the Oxford English Dictionary; faith Pronunciation: /fe??/ noun [mass noun] 1complete trust or confidence in someone or something: this restores one’s faith in politicians 2strong belief in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual conviction rather than proof: bereaved people who have shown supreme faith [count noun] a particular religion: the Christian faith [count noun] a strongly held belief: men with strong political faiths exclamation chiefly Irish said to express surprise or emphasis: faith, I was shown the door myself and came home Phrases: break (or keep) faith be disloyal (or loyal): an attempt to make us break faith with our customers

      Jean - 2012-05-08 13:20

      @Jean please change your name because that comment just degraded me. The bible has saved millions of souls? really ? I am christian, but think before you post! Go read about the crusades and other "holy" wars.

  • george.pito - 2012-05-08 06:03

    And they called it global warming

  • Darryl - 2012-05-08 07:02

    People employ reason in every aspect of their lives but choose to suspend it in favour of religeon.

  • winston.mullany - 2012-05-08 07:29

    Pull my finger!!

  • Pagel - 2012-05-08 07:36

    Sorry - I do not for one moment believe that dinosaurs farting can be compared to the effect of power stations, cars etc. running 24/7. There has been ice ages - while not fully understood how and why they occurred the geological, chemical and paleontological evidence is there to support it. One explanation (copied): "The general consensus is that it is a combination of several important factors: atmospheric composition (the relative amounts of water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, sulfur dioxide, and various other gases and particulates in the atmosphere), changes in the Earth's orbit around the Sun known as Milankovitch cycles (and possibly the Sun's orbit around the galaxy), the motion of tectonic plates resulting in changes in the relative location and amount of continental and oceanic crust on the Earth's surface, variations in solar output, the orbital dynamics of the Earth-Moon system, the impact of relatively large meteorites, and eruptions of supervolcanoes."

  • Jean - 2012-05-08 07:46

    does anybody remember that no more than a decade ago, the ice age was "a cummin..." lol, can't wait to see what they come up with next. Watch this space!!!

  • Morné - 2012-05-08 08:03

    The article is very speculative as there is no concrete knowledge (and probably never will be) on the behavior, ecology, digestive processes, population sizes and herding behavior of these dinosaurs. They merely took some basic data and some basic models and plugged in some speculative figures and obtained results that points at a particular scenario. Each step of the process in their calculations is potential flawed and 'out' by several orders of magnitude. To draw any conclusions from that about global warming past and present is an interesting academic exercise, but nothing more than that. To add this article to the modern day debate on climate change will only add to the confusion and serve no purpose other than to 'stir the pot'.

  • Diana - 2012-05-08 08:49

    One more "amazing"discovery from british scientists.

  • Peter-Peter - 2012-05-08 09:13

    What a load of complete horse cr**! Anything to keep the motion of 'humans causing the next ice age' in tact..

  • Justus Kilian - 2012-05-08 09:21

    What rubbish! But I'm sure primedia and naspers would be quite happy to repeat this garbage, as they both have bought into the man made climate change scam.

  • John - 2012-05-08 10:35

    OH PLEEZ!!!! Are the so-called "masters of the universe" trying to scare us into stopping to eat beef, otherwise it will cause increase rate of global warming and eventually death for all on the planet??? To think that someone actually gets paid to conduct studies like these!!!

  • NPDeKlerk - 2012-05-08 10:45

    Well This may or may not be true, there are so many unknown variables that no statement can be made that it is the same or worse than today. A very good example is that we have lost an insane amount of Forestation compared to such an era, forestation that helps relief gasses effects on the atmosphere...Like Gaviscon.

  • ludlowdj - 2012-05-08 10:52

    back to the farts kill the world kick are we, next we will hear of re-tabled plans to kill off kangaroo populations because they "fart" to much. If you really want to reduce these emissions start culling humans instead......oh sorry that's right that would have an effect on profit margins wouldn't it?

  • Linette Myburgh - 2012-05-08 11:02

    Don't buy an e-tag!!

  • craig.a.salter - 2012-05-08 11:31

    and millions the tax payers money goes off to researching fossil dino farts

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