From the ABC 7 Weather team

'Dinosaur flatulence' and global warming: The gassy relationship

May 8, 2012 - 05:00 AM
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Would you believe that dinasaurs' gas actually had a significant climate impact during the Mesozoic era?  Good thing dinosaurs are no longer around, or our climate could be very different.

How much did dinosaur gas have to do with early climate change? (Photo: Flickr/Son of Groucho)

Flatulence -- OK, so this is not a topic that I ever thought I would blog about, but in context, the whole story is pretty interesting.   It has to do with dinosaur gas and the climate.

In the Current Biology journal, an article posted by scientists finds dinosaur gas likely produced more methane than cows do today.  Methane is a greenhouse gas that is 20 times more powerful in trapping warmer air in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide.  Actually, cows release more methane by belching than flaculating (OK you know the common word ), but I guess we don't know if dinosaurs burped, or belched, as much as the study assumes they flaculated, but it's fun to think about.  Imagine that sound . . .from both ends.

The dinosaurs discussed in the study are Sauropods.  These are are four footed, vegetarian dinosaurs that lived during the Mesozoic age.  Since there were so many of these sauropods traveling in dense herds, during the time, the methane emissions added up.  The study determined there was about 575 million tons of methane emissions annually!  

Dinopark Münchehagen

Wondering how that compares to the methane from cows today?  Cows only emit about one fifth the amount of methane, as estimated by the sauropods.  The study concluded the methane gas emitted by the sauropods could have played a significant role in altering the climate during the Mesozoic time period.

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