Jurassic emissions

Today, we worry about the belching of beef cattle and the effect of all that methane release on atmospheric carbon levels and climate change. However, back in the day (and The Alchemist means, way, way back in the day) dinosaur "emissions" may have been just as much to blame for the greenhouse effect. 150 million years ago, the Earth was warm and wet and sauropods stomped around producing methane as methanogenic gut microbes helped digest the giants' food. Dave Wilkinson of Liverpool John Moores University in the UK has calculated that that these dinosaurs - which included the Brachiosaurus, Diplodocus, and Apatosaurus (sometimes known as the Brontosaurus) - may have made more methane than all modern sources, natural and anthropogenic put together. The study's conclusions not only show "just how strange and wonderful the workings of the planet are" but also serve as a useful reminder for the importance of microbes and methane for global climate, Wilkinson and colleagues conclude.