Dinosaur Flatulence

Topics like the above in esteemed scientific journals fascinate me. Mind you, I didn’t make this topic up.

Do they show that scientists also have a sense of humor? Or, are they really just weird?

Brachiosaurus Dinosaur

Oops! I didn't do that!

In this case, I wasn’t sure, since the topic of flatulence is, well, pretty much out there. So Mr. Curiosity – that’s me – decided to investigate.

In the May 8, 2012 edition of Current Biology (http://www.cell.com/current-biology/), principal investigator David M. Wilkinson, along with Euan G. Nisbet and Graeme D. Ruxton, all researchers from prestigious universities in England, posed the following question:

Could methane produced by sauropod dinosaurs have helped drive Mesozoic climate warmth?                            (source: Current Biology, V. 22, No. 9, pp R292-3)

Now, this is an interesting question on several levels. We’ll get to that, but first, some of the facts from their groundbreaking study:

  1. Sauropods were the big, long-necked dinos that ate a lot of plant life, both high in the trees, and low on the ground. They were eating machines.
  2. These folks were around in the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods of the Mesozoic era. About 135 million years!
  3. Approximately 11-15 of these creatures would be found in any square kilometer of land space, or about 30-40 of these big boys per square mile.
  4. Each animal outgassed about 2700 liters of methane daily. Yes, that’s a lot of flatulence. Per animal, per day.
  5. The amount of gas that they emitted is as much as 24 times the average daily emittance of modern-day ruminants, such as cows. That does not take into account vegans.

The long and the short of this study: researchers found that sauropods probably affected global warming during their tenure on earth. And, if you want to measure the length of time of the three aforementioned ages, they were around a long, long time.

What are the take-aways from this environmental (I’m serious here) study?

  • Living creatures other than running-dog industrialists and capitalists have affected climate change.
  • The Earth, also known as Gaea, the Titan earth-mother, seemed to adjust to the annoyance of creatures on her turf heating things up. Gaea did not burn up, blow up, or become a dead planet.
  • At some point Big Mamma got tired of the whole thing, killed off the offending bunch of smelly dinos, and then repopulated her fields and hills with new creatures. And started all over again.
  • Before this final act happened, the herbivores all got really, really big.

I guess we can all infer from this that my mother is right. She often says to me these days: “The end is near, Ronny, the end is near!”

My guess is that Mom is correct. Here are some confirming signs that I will be looking for:

  • New Hampshire’s beautiful mountain-fed lakes are finally warm enough for me to step into without screaming for the first 30 seconds each time that I do.
  • Large chunks of North Pole ice are floating in New York harbor.
  • My vegan friends are all growing to enormous size.

Watch out: global warming is upon us. The end is near!

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Ronald Sieber is a commercial writer and author who muses about Life as we know it and writes a blog while on the road. He will be talking a summer hiatus from this blog as he writes guest posts for others. Contact him at www.RonaldSieber.com if you want more results from your written commercial copy.

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