On the naughty step - Conduct that deserves a ticking off

11th May 2012 at 01:00

This week: dinosaurs

They've been extinct for 65 million years - though they're proved great survivors when it comes to the primary school curriculum.

But the image of dinosaurs - said to have been the innocent victims of a catastrophic climate change event - is about to change, creating a headache for science teachers everywhere. New research from Liverpool John Moores University, published in the journal Current Biology, claims that the prehistoric plant-eating giants contributed to climate change, producing enough greenhouse gas - by breaking wind - to alter the Earth's climate, rather like behemoth cows.

Scientists have calculated that a medium-sized sauropod weighed about 20 tonnes and lived in herds of up to a few tens of animals per square kilometre. Their global methane emissions, the scientists estimate, would have amounted to around 472 million tonnes a year - comparable to our man-made methane emissions today.

"A simple mathematical model suggests that the microbes living in sauropod dinosaurs may have produced enough methane to have an important effect on the Mesozoic climate,' said study leader Dr Dave Wilkinson.

So there you have it. A new teaching dilemma. Little boys, on the other hand, are sure to love the notion of prehistoric fart machines.

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