Sauropod dinosaurs could in principle have produced enough of the greenhouse gas methane to warm the climate many millions of years ago, at a time when Earth was warm and wet. That’s according to calculations reported in the May 8th issue of Current Biology, a Cell Press publication. The hulking sauropods, distinctive for their enormous size and unusually long necks, were widespread about 150 million years ago. As in cows, methane-producing microbes aided the sauropods’ digestion by fermenting their plant food.
“A simple mathematical model suggests that the microbes living in sauropod dinosaurs may have produced enough methane to have an important effect on the Mesozoic climate,” said Dave Wilkinson of Liverpool John Moores University. “Indeed, our calculations suggest that these dinosaurs could have produced more methane than all modern sources — both natural and man-made — put together.”
Okay, just one little comment: Maybe it’s a good thing if man did not walk with the dinosaurs, pace Stockwell Day.
Here’s the paper, from Current Biology.
Update: The media have really smelled a story here.