Dinosaur Gas

Via the BBC:  Dinosaur gases ‘warmed the Earth’

Giant dinosaurs could have warmed the planet with their flatulence, say researchers.

British scientists have calculated the methane output of sauropods, including the species known as Brontosaurus.

By scaling up the digestive wind of cows, they estimate that the population of dinosaurs – as a whole – produced 520 million tonnes of gas annually.

They suggest the gas could have been a key factor in the warm climate 150 million years ago.

How’s that for a  Tuesday morning factoid?

FILED UNDER: Quick Takes, Science & Technology
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Hey Norm says:

    As New York Magazine points out…with all those Dino Farts it must have been brutal for the humans living at the time.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Creation_Museum_10.png

  2. APL says:

    Leave it to the Brits! They screwed
    up the Tree ring studies on purpose
    to prove the Earth was warming.
    Now Brontosauras Farts? Which Brit
    was there at the time to count them.

    This is getting really stupid!!!

  3. Hey Norm says:

    “…They screwed
    up the Tree ring studies on purpose
    to prove the Earth was warming…”

    Pot…meet kettle.

  4. @APL: Anyone who doubts the ability of biological creatures to produce copious amounts of methane clearly has no sons and/or have never stayed in a hotel room with them.

  5. APL says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I have sons and daughters, and dogs.
    I fully understand about methane. I also believe that the
    decaying vegetable matter on all of this earth,
    Plus volcanic eruptions both underseas and
    on land generate much more methane associated
    gasses than farts do. Either you like being sarcastic or
    you and Hey Norms’ belief in your overbearing intellectualism
    won’t allow you to do some real research on subjects
    and come up with a personal opinion based on some
    supported facts. Thinking that humans or animals can have
    a direct effect on global climate is downright stupid!
    Yes we can have a direct effect on our local environment
    with our waste from our factories, herbicides, pesticides,
    transportation, and of course human waste. But on a global
    scale. I don’t think so.

  6. Dazedandconfused says:

    I’m afraid to do the math on this, but it may well prove that many dinosaurs for that many millions of years means the earths atmosphere is 100% stale dino fart.

  7. Sorry, this is just so wrong on so many levels. Gary Larson explained years ago what really killed the dinosaurs, and it ain’t pretty.

  8. @APL: All snarkiness aside, I would note the following:

    1, It is possible to scientifically estimate the amount of methane that a given creature might produce. Call that M

    2. It is possible to estimate the number of said creatures. Call that C

    3. As such M x C would give you the amount of methane that the creatures in question will have produced.

    The only question becomes, does an increase in the level of said gas matter in the atmosphere?

    Now, perhaps the amount of methane does not, in fact, matter. But the notion that the sum of activities cannot have a global effect strikes me as a claim made without foundation.

  9. @Donald Sensing: Indeed.

  10. APL says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I will agree with you to the point
    that we absolutely do not know. However, having some
    knowledge of Ice core studies of the Greenland Icecap
    done in the early sixties, (observed and talked to scientists myself)
    the info gathered supported theories the the earth has
    gone through many periods of great climate and temperature changes
    long before any major animals or man was on this earth. To have
    the great ego of man to think that we have such a great
    effect on the whole planet just by living on it, is kind of out there.
    I say again, yes we can screw up our local environments, but
    in the end, we live on this planet at the whim of geology and
    the Sun in most part. We may think we are the greatest, smartest
    animal here. But, how long have we been here compared to the
    Dinosaurs? And, How long will we be around. Will we kill ourselves
    off, as some are saying the Dinosaurs did. Or, will we go due to
    something that will occur no matter what we do or don’t do.
    You talk about the math of elements in the atmosphere. Let’s talk about
    numbers of people verses numbers of others living creatures.
    I would guess that there are many more billions of insects that
    have already gone to extinction than there are people alive today.
    Why are the gone? Did they screw up their environment also?
    This subject will probably never be settled, and we should only
    worry about our local environment and do as much as possible
    to not add to the natural pollution, Quit worrying about things we
    cannot control.

  11. @APL:

    To have
    the great ego of man to think that we have such a great
    effect on the whole planet just by living on it, is kind of out there.
    I say again, yes we can screw up our local environments, but
    in the end, we live on this planet at the whim of geology and
    the Sun in most part.

    This is where you lose me. Mass action clearly matters. This is not about ego.

  12. Moreover the “ego” argument isn’t about science one way or another. It has the whiff of sophistry, to be honest. (And to be clear: I am not hardcore on the climate issue).

  13. APL says:

    @ Steven L. Taylor:This is where you lose me. Mass action clearly matters. This is not about ego.
    I ask you; Mass Action By Whom? And how?
    Is it possible to get all the nations and peoples of this world to give up what
    comforts the minds of man has created and return to living as primitive man did?
    How many could survive? Will you Liberals(If you are one) and progressives
    give up all of your wealth and comforts and return to living off the land and
    conserving as much of nature as possible? And, can you say without a doubt, that this action will contain a usable atmosphere and environment so that man can grow and prosper?
    Even if “Mass Action” were to occur, would it really change the cycles of this world
    in the universe? I still believe the man thinks he can control so much more than is
    possible. And, if that is not Ego, I don’t know what is. Show me some real evidence
    that mass action can change the natural cycles of the Earth,(Other than mass use of Atomic
    Weapons) and I might come around to your way of thinking