Wildlife Wednesdays: Marsupials are Better for the Earth! | weatherology°
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By: Meteorologist Megan Mulford
Updated: Feb 7th 2022

Wildlife Wednesdays: Marsupials are Better for the Earth!

One of the greatest threat to climate change is methane, which is produced by burps and flatulence of sheep and cattle, due to their diet. Kangaroos and other marsupials eat a similar diet but produce less methane than our farm friends! The University of Queensland launched a new program to figure out why this occurs in marsupials. 

Methane produced in animals is caused by micro-organisms in their gut that breaks down food and produces methane during the digestion process. The methane is not caused by bacteria but caused from a single-cell organism called archea. Kangaroos have archea in them, but for some reason they produce less methane. Professor Mark Morrison and Dr. Paul Evans are part of a team are seeking "A better understanding of this relationship could potentially help scientists find ways to reduce methane emissions in livestock, decrease greenhouse gas emissions from the agricultural sector and positively impact climate change,” Morrison said in a statement. Dr. Evans said "the topic of marsupial archaea is so understudied that we don't even know how much less methane a kangaroo produces from the same amount of food as a cow." “It's somewhere between a tenth as much, and an undetectable amount,” Evans said.

Australian grasses are lower in quality than those of other countries due to a drier climate and poor soil but it seems kangaroos continue to produce a low amount of methane, even with the harsh, rough material.