>From: "scerir" <email@example.com>
>Date: Thu, 10 Aug 2000 21:18:25 +0200
>DINOSAURS were not wiped out by a meteorite or a planetary catastrophe but
>by a serious flatulence problem, according to a Chinese news report. The
>report, cited last week by BBC News Online, comes from the China Youth
>Daily. In 1991 Associated Press attributed the idea to geochemist Simon
>Brassell; this time it's an unnamed French scientist.
>The problem was apparently the amount of methane expelled by the
>dinosaurs--enough to blast a hole in the ozone layer. This in turn damaged
>terrestrial vegetation and caused a food shortage which ended the
>"The animals, weighing from 80 to 100 tonnes, would eat on average between
>130 and 260 kilos of food every day. They would fart non-stop," the Chinese
>paper tells its surprised readers.
>(from the New Scientist)
Actually, this sounds very much like a similar story reported in the L.A.
Times or O.C. Register recently. However, the gist of what I suspect to
have been the original story was that the methane/water crystals that exist
at the bottom of much of the ocean, in some cases in layers estimated to be
hundreds of feet thick, started sublimating either as the ocean levels
dropped during some mini-ice-age cycle due to a drop in the extreme pressure
required to keep them in crystal form, or alternatively as the ocean temps
rose during a hot cycle. Either way, this process proceeded into a runaway
global catastrophe which had the result you mentioned.
The methane crytals really are there, in vast abundance, but were only
fairly recently identified as such, because it's hard to get them to the
surface intact. There has been a lot of speculation since their discovery
that they might serve as a useful energy supply in the near future,
comparable in total ergs to natural gas, but there is also the worry that
the layers might not be all that stable...
Of course, an asteroid could also have been a triggering agent in a methane
catatastrophe. However, it seems unlikely to me that any such combination
of events could have wiped out every single species of dinosaur. I proposed
a systemic cause that could account for the universal demise about twenty
years ago, and have yet to hear a reason why it couldn't be true.
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