Every school kid knows that the dinosaurs were wiped out by a massive climate changing event. But according to a team of scientists in the UK, the massive amounts of methane created by the largest dinosaur species could have contributed to global warming millions of years ago, accelerating their own extinction. The scientists theorize that bacteria and other microbes in the digestive tracts of gigantic sauropods could have created up to 520 million cubic tons of gas every year.
The theory is based on observed results of methane production by cattle - cow farts literally contribute to global warming effects. It's no laughing matter: environmental scientists say that the massive amount of cattle herds domesticated for beef production create an incredible amount of greenhouse gasses, an effect that isn't helped by the fact that thousands of acres of forest are cleared annually for grazing land. Current estimates put cows' production of methane at between 50 million and 100 million cubic tons annually.
Today, methane emissions around the world are at an estimated 500 million tons per year - slightly less than the combined team from Liverpool John Moore's University, the University of London and the University of Glasgow estimate that dinosaurs and the microbes inside them produced 150 million years ago. Their theory is supported by a complex calculation of the population of large vegetarian dinosaurs like the Brachiosaurus during the Mesozoic era. According to fossil and geologic record, this particular era of pre-history was approximately 18 Fahrenheit degrees hotter than the earth today.
[via The BBC]