Dinosaurs' Farts: Silent but Deadly

#Science

Tue, May 8th, 2012 20:00 by capnasty NEWS

According to U.K. scientists, herbivore dinosaurs released so much methane gas in their farts that, tens of millions of years ago, temperatures were twice as high as they are today.

By their estimate, these dinosaurs generated about 520 million tons of methane each year, the same as the total amount produced today from all sources. In comparison, cows, goats, giraffes and other such grazers that rely on microbes to aid digestion today produce between 50 million tons and 100 million tons of methane each year. The remainder of today's output comes from natural and industrial sources.

Dinosaur experts were skeptical. "Undoubtedly, biological gases like methane were produced" by sauropods, said Mark Norell, chairman of the Division of Paleontology at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, who wasn't involved in the project. "It is difficult to judge the volume of the gases," given the dearth of direct evidence about their feeding habits, digestion, typical herd sizes and the microbes themselves.

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