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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
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ScienceShot: Dino 'Gas' Warmed the Earth
7 May 2012 1:50 pm
Excuse you. Researchers have found that immense herbivorous dinosaurs may have produced enough methane gas—essentially burps and flatulence—to substantially boost global temperatures. The group of dinosaurs known as sauropods—plant eaters famed for their long necks and gargantuan size, such as those shown in an artist's reconstruction above—were common members of many ancient ecosystems. Previous research hints that each square kilometer of well-vegetated area may have supported between 11 and 15 sauropods, which together could have weighed about 200 metric tons. Using methane-production data for modern gut bacteria, researchers estimate that over the course of a year, sauropods worldwide would have produced about 520 million metric tons of the greenhouse gas. That's roughly the amount of methane entering the atmosphere each year from all of today's sources combined—including agriculture, beef and dairy production, wetlands, and forest fires—and about three times the amount of annual preindustrial emissions, the team estimates in the 8 May issue of Current Biology. Because methane has about 25 times the planet-warming power of carbon dioxide, the gas generated by sauropods alone could have warmed the planet almost as effectively as all of the carbon dioxide in today's atmosphere, data from other studies suggest.
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