Culprit in Prehistoric Climate Change: Dinosaur Farts
Dino flatulence could be to blame, says new study
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted May 7, 2012 11:40 AM CDT
Apatosaurus flatulence might have contributed to climate change.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – Dinosaurs may have their own flatulence to thank for the warm climate—about 18 degrees hotter—when they roamed the Earth back 150 million years or so ago. During the Mesozoic era, the creatures likely generated 520 million metric tons of methane every year, researchers find. That's not too different from the 500 million metric tons humans and animals produce today. But "there were other sources of methane in the Mesozoic, so total methane level would probably have been much higher than now."

The study focused on sauropods, like the Apatosaurus, formerly called Brontosaurus, the BBC reports. But it's microbes, not dinosaurs, that were actually making the gas, the scientists note. "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," says one.