Who knew dinosaurs all had an Uncle Frank? You know, the relative who always convinces the little kids to pull his finger, and, er … hilarity ensues. That, however, is the latest theory explaining the sudden extinction of the dinosaurs — global warming through flatulence (via Doug Mataconis and Poor Richard’s News):
Dinosaurs may be partly to blame for a change in climate because they created so much flatulence, according to leading scientists.
Professor Graeme Ruxton of St Andrews University, Scotland, said the giant animals spent 150 years emitting the potent global warming gas, methane.
Large plant-eating sauropods would have been the main culprits because of the huge amounts of greenery they consumed.
The team calculated the animals would have collectively produced more than 520m tons of methane a year – more than all today’s modern sources put together.
It is thought these huge amounts could easily have been enough to warm the planet.
I’m going to call shenanigans on this one. Scientists — well, real scientists, anyway — don’t measure dinosaur activity over a 150-year period. They measure time in eons. It’s nearly impossible to pinpoint timing such as this through ages past. The species that would have produced this methane would have done so for tens or hundreds of thousands of years, not just for a period of time that just coincidentally matches that of widespread industrialization in the West.
Besides, the most well-accepted theories of dinosaur extinction don’t involve climate warming. It’s generally accepted that catastrophic and sudden cooling caused the extinction of dinosaurs and other animal and plant life of that era. While some AGW hypotheses argue that global warming can eventually produce an ice age, a much more likely culprit would be a large meteor impact or a super-volcano eruption, both of which would produce an environment akin to a nuclear winter, lasting perhaps decades. Yellowstone is one potential supervolcano, as the Discovery Channel notes, and Lake Toba is the site of another that actually produced a prolonged cooling impact on the planet around 74,000 years ago.
This looks like a silly attempt to push the global-warming agenda and garner a little attention. Mission accomplished, but it sounds more like gassing on than a serious approach to either paleontology or climatology.
Note: Cover image from Demotivational Posters.