Monday, 7 May 2012

Dinosaurs passing wind may have induced climate change

Cows are known for their contribution to global warming- namely the large quantity of methane (90 million tonnes annually). But how about dinosaurs?

Sauropods were around about 150-160 million years ago.

Recognizable by their long necks and huge bodies, they were herbivores.

Some of them, particularly the Diplodocus (weighing up to 45 tonnes) , are the largest mammals to walk the earth.

Using a mathematical model structured from cows, they estimate that dinosaurs produced over 500 million tons of gas every year.

The key is in the vast number of microorganisms in the gut of the dinosaur.

These microorganisms ferment the plant in the dinosaur producing the potent methane gas.

Professor Graeme Ruxton, St Andrews University said the herbivores spent over 150 years exuding these gases.
Methane is a greenhouse gas, it absorbs radiation from the sun and traps it.

Compared to carbon dioxide, methane absorbs 20x more radiation.

The dinosaurs looks down at the industrial age, where roughly man produced about 180 million tonnes of gas annually.

The study suggests these gases were essential in maintaining the warm climate the dinosaurs lived in.

The calculations actually imply that the dinosaur population emitted more methane than we do currently in modern times on the whole.

The study was published in the journal Current Biology.

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