The answer to the dinosaurs’ extinction is a matter that has haunted scientists for ages. One controversial theory claims to have found the answer. Researchers in the United Kingdom believe dinosaur gas is linked to both global warming and their extinction.
Perhaps not the most technical or science fiction theory approach you’d expect, but experts believe there are factors that could confirm their controversial research. According to David Wilkinson’s team, dinosaur gas, or gassy dinos for that matter, would have had a major impact in the global warming of the Mesozoic era.
The Mesozoic era is set about 250 million years, the time when sauropods and other such giant plant eating dinos were roaming the planet. The sauropods’ fiber rich diets were apparently likely to produce important amounts of greenhouse gas methane.
The researchers’ team tried to calculate how much greenhouse gas methane the plant eating dinosaurs could have produced. Although the calculations aren’t exactly easy to confirm, the numbers are quite significant. Sauropods across the planet would have produced about 520 million tons of greenhouse gas methane per year.
Wilkinson said: “I was expecting a number like that produced by cows, so the size of the number really surprised me”. The researched explained that cows usually produced about 55 to 110 million tons of methane per year. The team of researchers tried to be conservative in making the calculations. Based on their numbers, 10 sauropods would have delivered 7.6 tons of methane per year. “it’s way, way, way ahead of the estimated methane production by modern livestock”.
The trouble with Wilkinson’s theory is that the science, so far, doesn’t have any kind of means to validate his findings. Given that scientists still don’t know what kind of bacteria would have lived in sauropods’ digestive systems, Wilkinson’s theory can easily be put in the ground. However, the researcher stands by his opinion: “To process that amount of vegetation they have to be relying on microbes in their digestive system”. That is, if dinosaurs’ digestive systems were anything like those of animals nowadays.
But Wilkinson might have a point, if his theory would ever be confirmed. Methane gas can retain heat in the atmosphere 20 times more than carbon dioxide and nowadays “methane from livestock is a significant component of the global methane budget”.