Kangaroo farts are bad for the Earth according to new research which contradicts previous beliefs that the marsupials emitted gas which contained very little methane. Researchers at the University of Wollongong in Australia have found that kangaroos actually produce about the same amount of methane as other animals of similar size.
Until this research had been conducted, it was believed that because of the types of bacteria found in their stomachs, kangaroos produced very little methane as a result of digestion. However it has now been discovered that the microbe community within their stomachs produce just as much methane as in the case of other animals.
Methane is created naturally in any animal’s gut by the bacteria that can be found there. Herbivores like kangaroos use this bacteria to help them digest the plants that they consume. While we now know that gasses emitted by kangaroos are just as bad as the ones emitted by cows, research conducted in the 1970s and the 1980s indicated otherwise.
Until this study was conducted scientists relied on the research conducted during the 1970s and the 1980s and as a consequence thought that kangaroos produced little to no methane when eliminating flatulence. This led them to believe that the marsupials might have had a special kind of low methane-emitting bacteria living in their stomachs.
The new findings suggest otherwise: while it was found that kangaroos do emit less methane than other animals such as cows, they actually produce about the same amount of methane as other animals such as horses. This means, of course, that it is very unlikely that their stomachs would contain any type of special bacteria.
The research may seem of little consequence when only focusing on how much methane a kangaroo’s flatulence produces, but it is actually very important. Understanding methane could lead to breakthroughs in diminishing or even eliminating the negative consequences of climate change.
Methane is a greenhouse gas produced by natural sources like decomposing organic materials and human activities such as animal farming (where the manure produced by the animals is responsible for the emission) as well as oil and gas operations.
Methane contributes to global warming because of its ability to trap heat efficiently. It is 25 times more effective at trapping heat and influencing global warming than carbon dioxide, which is the most abundant greenhouse has humans produce.
The research is important in helping scientists understand how the bacteria in animal’s stomachs breaks down the food into methane. If the process could be altered, both the environment as well as the animal itself (whose body would absorb more nutrients from the food) would be helped immensely by the change.