Plants and Animals

Project Hopes To Explain Why Marsupials Are Better For the Planet than Other Herbivores

Large amounts of methane in cattle and sheep dung (and occasionally cattle) represent one of the biggest threats to climate stability. Despite living on a similar diet, kangaroos and many other marsupials produce far less than this heat-wasting gas, but scientists rarely know why. The University of Queensland has launched a new program to find the underlying cause of this issue, although they currently have more questions than answers.

An organism involved in a certainty does not produce methane on its own instead, the microorganisms in their (and ours) courage break down food and produce methane in the process. Contrary to popular belief, methane production in the gut is not from bacteria, but a separate domain of unicellular organisms known as archaea. The adventures of kangaroos have also captured by archaea, yet for some reason, they produce fatally less methane when they turn the grass into nutrients when the host can absorb them.

Project Hopes To Explain Why Marsupials Are Better For the Planet than Other Herbivores

Professor Mark Morrison and Dr. Paul Evans were part of a team that wanted to identify why some archaea produce so much more methane than others do, Morrison said in a statement. It can help to find ways to mitigate and positively affect climate change.” 

Humans have their own archaea, but our diet is so different from cattle that it is not surprising that most of us are too light in gas production. Dr. Evans summarizes the issue of marsupial archaea to IFLScience in such a way that we do not know how little methane a kangaroo produces from an equal amount of food. “It’s somewhere in the tithe and in an undetectable amount,” Evans said.

If anything, the opposite can expected. Australian grasses are of lower quality than other continents due to the arid climate and poor soils, but Marsupial archaea does not resort to high methane production for the processing of this rough material. Interestingly, although intestinal archaea differs among the native marsupial species, what methane producers do seems to be more matches regardless of diet. Evans said many things are undiscovered, but the kangaroos have “some similarities to Wombats and sugar gliders”, although they prefer roots and nectar to grass. As far as Evans knows, no one has tried to give a cow a kangaroo- poo enema (or vice versa) to see how each animal carries the other’s germs in the climb. The results will probably be catastrophic, but it may be appropriate to adapt more slowly to the marsupial arch in the cavity.

Some have suggested kangaroo farming for meat as an alternative, an idea that has created a rare coalition of beef farmers and animal rights activists against it. Evans does not want to tell IFLScience, he does not want to draw on the merits of the concept; “I think it’s going to be very difficult. They’re wild animals, hard for pets.”

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