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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
Since arriving on the island of Guam in the 1940s, the brown tree snake ( Boiga irregularis ) has extirpated native...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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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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