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Entries in Dinosaurs (3)

Tuesday
May082012

Dinosaur Gas Enough to Warm Earth’s Climate?

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- Scientists from the U.K. say dinosaurs probably had gas, just as animals and humans do today, and they may have had enough of it that it actually warmed the Jurassic climate, more than 100 million years ago.

David Wilkinson of Liverpool John Moores University led a team, writing in the journal Current Biology, that tried to estimate how much gas could have come from sauropods — the giant long-necked vegetarian dinosaurs such as Apatosaurus (previously known as Brontosaurus) — who roamed many swamps, chomping on greens to get enough calories.

It would have been a high-fiber diet.

Wilkinson and his colleagues estimate that the dinosaurs gave off something like 570 million tons of methane every year.  They emphasize that they’re heaping one estimate on top of another — there’s no saying, for instance, what microbes may have thrived in a typical dinosaur’s gut, or just how many ferns one could have eaten in a day.

But if they’re right, the dinosaurs gave off about as much methane as gets into the atmosphere today from bogs, natural gas pumping and livestock on modern-day farms.

Methane happens to be a heat-trapping gas, like carbon dioxide — and it’s considerably more potent, molecule per molecule.  Hence the suggestion that the dinosaurs may have helped warm their world.

There are many other factors, Wilkinson and his team point out, that would have contributed to the already-warm climate when the dinosaurs lived.  And scientists say carbon dioxide today is much more plentiful in the atmosphere than methane.

But still, if you figure that the average Apatosaurus could have weighed something like 20,000 pounds, and spent most of the day eating to keep up its body weight — well, no wonder Wilkinson’s paper has been a hot topic.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Apr172012

Huge Dinosaur Eggs Found in Chechnya, Scientists Claim

Hemera/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- A team of explorers in Chechnya have accidentally discovered what they say is the largest batch of fossilized dinosaur eggs in a mountainous area south of the republic.

The cache, the first of its kind found in Chechnya, contains 40 or so eggs and is believed to date back some 60 million years. The explorers also believe they were laid by plant eating dinosaurs.

The team of geographers stumbled up on the eggs as they were studying two uncharted waterfalls.

While most of the Chechen scientists are “90 percent” certain of their find, one is not convinced. Ramzan Vagapov, one of the expedition members, says he does not believe the eggs were laid by dinosaurs and will deliver a sample to a group of Russian paleontologists for further testing.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Mar022012

Jurassic Blood-Sucking Fleas Discovered in China

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Hide your dogs, hide your cats! The discovery of monstrous “Jurassic fleas” in Northern China is enough to make even Twilight’s vampires quiver.

A team of researchers has unearthed the fossilized remains of blood-sucking mini-beasts dating back at least 65 million years. They found them to be especially suited for sinking their teeth into dinosaurs. Nearly an inch long, the prehistoric critters were more than ten times the size of today’s average household flea.

“It really appears as though they were specialized for working their way into some heavy hides,” said Michael Engel, a palaeoentomologist at the University of Kansas who co-authored a study on the discovery. “It was a big critter. I can’t even imagine coming home and finding my miniature schnauzer with one or more of these things crawling around on it.”

When thirsty, these fleas were built to feast. They had stout “sucking siphons” used to pierce the tough hides of feathered dinosaurs such as the Pterosaurs. Unlike the fleas you may find on Fido, these creatures were not able to easily hop from meal to meal. Instead, researchers believe their hind legs were designed to take running leaps, enabling them to latch onto their prey.

Once feasting, their strong mouths may have made it hard for even a dinosaur to shake them loose.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio