07/05/2012 15:04 BST

Flatulent Dinosaurs 'Warmed Earth' With Gases Says Study

Gases produced by dinosaurs caused an ancient episode of global warming, scientists have claimed.

According to a report written by a group of researchers from Liverpool John Moore's University, University of London and Glasgow, methane produced by some dinosaur species during their existence 150 million years ago could have been enough to increase the earth's total temperature.

After studying the sauropod class of dinosaur, which include the likes of Apatosaurus louise, also known as the Brontosaurus, the researchers believe that one cause of the unnaturally warm climate during the Mesozoic era, when it is believed the world was 10ºC warmer than it is now, could have been their flatulence.

By scaling up the amount of methane produced by cows today, which runs up to as much as nearly 100 million tonnes of methane per year, the scientists were able to calculate that the sauropods produced a vast 520 million tonnes annually.

Today, total methane emissions across the world tally to nearly 500 million tonnes, mostly from animals and human activities such as the production of dairy and meat.

The 20 million tonne difference between the two figures could have been enough to raise the Earth's temperature.

If you're baffled as to why this has even been studied, you should know that working out how flatulent various dinosaurs was to examine "the ecology of microbes... their role in the working of our planet" and how important the minuscule organisms are to the world.

"Although it's the dinosaur element that captures the popular imagination with this work, actually it is the microbes living in the dinosaurs guts that are making the methane," Dr David Wilson told the BBC.

The findings appear in report published in the Current Biology journal.