Kangaroo farts are deadlier than we previously thought, according to a new study, the Washington Post reports.
For years, scientists have said that kangaroos are more environmentally friendly than cows–partly because they release less methane, producing fewer greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. Emissions from livestock account for 14.5% of the world's greenhouse gas output, according to the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization, with cows producing 65% of those emissions. Researchers had hoped that by studying the particular gut bacteria kangaroos (and wallabies) use to digest their food, they might be able to find a way to get cows to produce less gas.
But a new study published this week in the Journal of Experimental Biology found that kangaroos actually do produce the same amount of methane as most other herbivores their size. The researchers suggest that the reason they produce less gas than cows is probably not because of special gut bacteria but just because kangaroos digest their food quicker.
The Christian Science Monitor writes that scientists previously thought kangaroos produced much lower levels of methane because, basically, they were measuring mostly their belches and not their farts. "With kangaroos, most of the methane comes out the back end, not the front end like you're used to seeing in sheep and cattle," Adam Munn, one of the study authors, told the website.
Kangaroo meat has been promoted in Australia in recent years as being more environmentally friendly than beef partly because of the methane emissions but also because the animals are considered a pest by farmers. The animals are not farmed, but harvested from the wild.