Seeker Archives

Kangaroo Farts Are a Problem

Kangaroo farts are almost as potent as a cow's, at least when it comes to emission of methane, a known greenhouse gas.

Think cows are stinky? Kangaroos have potent farts too, suggests a new study that found that the marsupials release significant amounts of methane into the air.

The discovery, reported in the Journal of Experimental Biology, negates a prior theory that kangaroos possessed "unique microbes" that heavily reduced methane production.

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"Kangaroos are not mysteriously low methane-producing creatures, but herbivores with an active methane-producing microbe community," co-author Marcus Clauss from the University of Zurich said in a press release.

He and his team are focused on the issue because methane is a known greenhouse gas that can contribute to climate change.

The researchers found that the amount of methane per kangaroo food intake could vary over just a few days.

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"If the animals eat less, i.e. the food remains in their foregut for longer and the bacteria have more time to digest, they produce more methane per food intake," said co-author Adam Munn from the University of Wollongong.

Scientists are considering many different options to solve the problem, from dietary changes to breeding animals whose food doesn't remain so long in their foreguts, to address the problem.

For the study, a group of Clauss' colleagues had the unenviable task of measuring everything that went into and came out of kangaroos to determine just how much methane the marsupials produced via their farts, and how efficient their digestion system was at curbing such gas.

DNA Extracted from Extinct Giant Kangaroo

The researchers fed alfalfa to kangaroos housed at the New South Wales' Fowlers Gap Research Station. The alfalfa was given at two different levels: a restricted diet versus all the kangaroos could eat. The team then measured the animals' methane production and metabolic rates and also collected their feces.

Next, back at a lab in Switzerland, scientist Michael Kreuzer analyzed the nutrient content of the kangaroo's feed and poop to find out how much food the kangaroos had digested in relation to the amount of methane they produced.

All Kangaroos Are Left-Handed

The researchers determined that a kangaroo produces about as much methane per year as a horse. Previously, it was discovered that a single adult horse can fart 45.5 pounds of methane gas annually. This is obviously an impressive amount, but still far less than that of cows.

"If the gas production (of kangaroos) is correlated with the amount of food ingested, however, the amount of methane is higher and therefore closer to the ruminants again," Clauss said. "In other words, the digestion process itself in kangaroos is not all that different to a cow's."

Photo: Kangaroos. Credit: A. Munn, University of Wollogong

We pet our dogs and cats all the time; we even kiss them. (If you're not an animal lover, that's not going to make any sense, we understand...) There are some animals that you might not imagine would be kissable, but they totally are. Following is our list. We're in deeply subjective territory here, we realize: You'll have your own ideas on the subject and you might even think, "I'm never kissing THAT!" Fair enough. Perhaps we can change your minds, though. First up is an easy one, no? We swim with dolphins, we pet them. Don't you want to smooch one too? Sure you do.

VIDEO: Dolphins Give Each Other Unique Names

OK, yes, we're sucker punching you with this one. Baby ducks deserve a kiss on the head just for being baby ducks. They need no other reason to warrant your affection. This is Scamper, and she approved this message.

Funky Ducks Thrive at NYC's Central Park: Photos

Extra points if you knew there'd be a wombat in here somewhere. And, not just any wombat. This is Patrick, the world's oldest (and fattest) wombat. He's a big-time celebrity at the Ballarat Wildlife Park in Victoria, Australia. He probably gets kisses all the time.

World's Oldest, Fattest Wombat Turns 29 Years Young

Let's not forget seals, either. Uber cute.

Seal Pup Found in Forest

On St. Patrick's day, this panda could wear a "Kiss me, I'm Irish" shirt, and you'd want to grant the request and ignore the big fat lie about its heritage. Although, outside of our theoretical exercise here, you'd probably risk a good deal of bodily harm actually trying it. So don't.

Giant Pandas Love Sugar

A baby goat! Just waiting to be adored, and kissed on the head. (Some captions just write themselves.)

Baaaaa: Goats Are Really Smart

Sea otters excel at being cute, and it often looks like they know it. (Somehow they manage that without being smug about it!) Did you know they even have their own awareness week, happening right now? (Click the link below to learn more about them, and to bask in more of their adorableness.)

Sea Otter Awareness Week: Photos

This colorful Madagascar day gecko looks happy enough for a peck on its head. It's not even trying to sell you car insurance. For that alone, it should be kissed.

Call this entry "In defense of bugs." While "kissable" insects might be a bridge too far for most people, it's not as though none of them can ever look cute. This dragonfly, for example, has the well-meaning, wide eyes of an optimist, to go along with a sharp blue hue. Let's pretend we don't notice it's eating another bug; kissability and the brutality of nature are entirely different discussions.

This little critter from the Prague zoo goes by the classification name

Macroscelides proboscideus

, but for we civilians it just goes by short-eared elephant shrew. It only weighs about an ounce and is 4 inches long on a good day. Too cute not to love.

The short-eared elephant shrew has a rival in the kissable little runt competition with this pygmy possum, a lilliputian marsupial that fights in the same general weight class as the shrew. If it will hang out in your hand, maybe it wouldn't mind a nuzzle.

Cute Australian Possum Doomed to Climate Change?

Looks like Mom has already taken our theme to heart with this baby miniature donkey.

This baby turtle is just starting out in life. It will never be more kissable than it is right now.

You could say that a manatee has a face only its mother could love, and maybe you'd be right. They're at least homely-cute, wouldn't you agree?

Sea Monsters Real and Imagined: Photos

Finally, koalas. Because why not? They rate as kissable just because you could easily mistake one for a stuffed animal, and those get kissed way more than koalas.