British scientists have calculated that the dinosaur population produced over 520 million pounds of methane gas annually, according to the BBC. Scientists suggest that the gas could have played a role in climate warming 150 million years ago.
Should we be surprised that such large creatures produced such large amounts of gas? Yes, because scientists say that the microbes living inside the dinosaurs helped make the methane.
Dr. David Wilkinson from Liverpool John Moores University, one of the study’s authors, said, “Although it’s the dinosaur element that captures the popular imagination with this work, actually it is the microbes living in the dinosaurs guts that are making the methane.”
Methane is a “greenhouse gas” that scientists believe contributes to climate change, and previous studies suggest that the Earth was 18 degrees fahrenheit warmer in the Mesozoic Era.
The study was conducted using a scale that links biomass to methane output for cattle.
“Cows today produce something like 50-100 [million tons] per year. Our best estimate for Sauropods is around 520 [million tonnes],” Dr. Wilkinson told the BBC.
Dinosaurs were not the sole producers of methane, however, which means the total methane level could have been higher back then than it is now.
“There were other sources of methane in the Mesozoic so total methane level would probably have been much higher than now,” Wilkinson said.
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