NOW THAT’S FUNNY
Dinosaurs ate a lot of plants. Giant herbivores, like Apatosaurus and Brachiosaurus would certainly have had to eat a lot to support their size: a Brachiosaurus was 23 feet tall, 40-50 feet long, and weighed between 33-80 tons. An animal like that eats a lot of leaves.
The question is: did digesting all those plants give them gas? Researchers at the Liverpool John Moores University in the United Kingdom think so, and have been estimating the amount of gas these animals would have been passing. They are making assumptions about what kind of effect all those digestive gasses would have had on the climate.
Paleontologists are aGHASt at the thought.
According to CBS.com, the researchers speculate that the amount of methane produced by the dinosaurs’ digestion would have warmed the earth considerably. Our modern day cows and other grazing animals produce methane gas as a byproduct of their digestions. Although there is no way to know if the dinosaurs also produced that gas, it seems likely, and if so, their methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, could have been a reason that the planet at the time was so warm and wet.
What will environmentalists say when they get wind of that?
Methane traps 20 times more heat than carbon dioxide. The dinosaurs are gone, but today we have cows and other grazing animals, and they give off a lot of methane, too. Even as we grapple now with climate change and its causes, the livestock in India is estimated to be giving off 11.75 metric tons of methane gas per year. So we carpool, and we buy from local farmers, and we use pumps instead of aerosols, but any gains we make are blown away by India’s 283 million cows.
Time reports that scientists in India are investigating many different ways to reduce the amount of gas given off by their animals. These include dietary changes, herbs and minerals and antibiotics. No word yet if Beano is being considered.
According to the new estimations, dinosaurs gave off about 520 million tons per year of methane gas. That output is huge compared to the cows of today. Dinosaurs ate a lot more than cows, do, of course, and the more you eat, the more you fart. Sounds like dinnertime with my kids.
During the Mesozoic Era (250 million years ago) when these huge animals lived, the planet was absolutely warmer and wetter. This allowed for more growth of vegetation, which would help these animals to thrive, which in turn would create more gas, which would lead to more warm temperatures. That’s a vicious cycle, but the dinosaurs are now extinct, so luckily that problem is all behind us now.
Pam Lobley writes the “Now That’s Funny” column. Her book, “You Definitely Know You’re a Mom When …” makes a great Mother’s Day gift and is now available on Kindle. Follow her on Twitter @plobley.