Penguin poop can make you loopy!


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More than 1,600 kilometers east of the Drake Passage between South America and Antarctica lies the Atlantic island of South Georgia. There, king penguins live in huge colonies. They spend their days chomping on krill, squid, and fish, feeding their chicks, and producing “guano.”

And that guano releases tremendous amounts of what’s better known as laughing gas, according to the study in Science of the Total Environment, which involved laboratory analysis of soil and guano samples.

“Penguin guano produces significantly high levels of nitrous oxide around their colonies. The maximum emissions are about 100 times higher than in a recently fertilized Danish field. It is truly intense—not least because nitrous oxide is 300 times more polluting than CO2,” explains Bo Elberling, professor in the University of Copenhagen’s department of geosciences and natural resource management.

Besides being a strain on the climate, the gas has an effect very similar to the sedative used in the dentist’s office, Elberling explains.

I can see all the stoners in Scandinavia lining up, now. Applying for jobs as “research assistants”.

4 thoughts on “Penguin poop can make you loopy!

  1. Hegelianist says:

    “A dose of laughing gas may just help some people with hard-to-treat depression, suggests a new, small clinical trial published Wednesday. The study found that people who inhaled nitrous oxide reported improvements in their depression symptoms afterward. It also found that people felt similar improvements with a smaller dose as they did with a larger one, but experienced substantially fewer side effects.” https://gizmodo.com/a-little-laughing-gas-can-help-treat-depression-small-1847066477
    “Nitrous Oxide for Treatment-Resistant Major Depression: A Proof-of-Concept Trial” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25577164/

  2. Gas-s-s-s says:

    Antarctica’s king penguins emit such copious amounts of nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, via their faeces that researchers went a little “cuckoo” studying them, according to a Danish scientific study published Thursday. https://www.sciencealert.com/researchers-love-antarctic-penguin-poop-here-s-why
    Nitrous oxide is 300 times more polluting to the environment than carbon dioxide.
    Past research has established a rapid increase in our air’s nitrous oxide levels over the last decades due to growing use of nitrogen fertilizers in our agriculture and the burning of fossil fuels.
    Although nitrogen emissions in the U.S. and Europe seem to have stabilized, high levels of output are still being recorded in countries like India, China, Pakistan, and Brazil, where regulations in agriculture have not been sufficient enough to tide the increase of nitrous oxide emissions. https://www.sciencealert.com/there-s-another-rapidly-growing-greenhouse-gas-and-you-ve-probably-never-heard-of-it

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