Credits: REUTERS/SRDJAN ZIVULOVIC
Dinosaurs changed their environment, thanks in part to their own powerful farts, new research suggests.
UK scientists have calculated the amount of flatulence large plant-eating dinosaurs would have produced at the dawn of our world, and say the combined ill wind would have been enough to warm the Earth.
But they fall short of saying the back-fires may have led to their extinction.
Publishing their findings in the journal Current Biology, authors of the joint study -- from Liverpool John Moore's University, the University of London and the University of Glasgow -- centred their calculations on how much methane giant lumbering sauropods would have produced.
Sauropods are among the largest of the dinosaurs, known for their large bodies, long necks and small heads.
By comparing the dino-fart calculations to the amount released by modern cows, the researchers estimate all dinosaurs would have let rip a combined 520 million tonnes of gas every year. That would be enough to alter the climate 150 million years ago, the study suggests.
Dr. David Wilkinson, from Liverpool John Moore's University, told QMI Agency that doesn't mean the dinosaurs gassed themselves out of existence.
"Extremely unlikely," he said, adding that's an opinion others appear to be putting on the science.
With so many variables, Wilkinson said: "All we have done is to show that it is possible in principle that sauropods (or at least the microbes in them) may have produced enough methane to have a modest climate impact."
Even today, cows alone pump as much as 100 million tonnes of methane up into the Earth's atmosphere, and about 500 million tonnes annually are released from a combination of sources.
But the scientists believe, since dinosaurs weren't the only source of methane gas, overall levels may have been higher than today.
It's not the only glimpse of odd perils faced by dinosaurs included in the issue Current Biology.
In it, Chinese researchers also report they've discovered a giant flea-like insect -- 10 times the size of current dog fleas -- that fed on the soft under-belly of dinosaurs.