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Scientists Studying Penguins Get High Off The Fumes From Their Poo

Scientists Studying Penguins Get High Off The Fumes From Their Poo

While studying a group of penguins in Antarctica, scientists got high off the fumes coming from their poo.

Researchers from the University of Copenhagen found that the penguins' guano (droppings) contains enormous amounts of nitrous oxide, which is more commonly known as laughing gas.

Professor Bo Elberling was one of the authors of the study and said that it was an 'intense' experience.

He said: "Penguin guano produces significantly high levels of nitrous oxide around their colonies. The maximum emissions are about 100 times higher than in a recently fertilised Danish field.

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"It is truly intense - not least because nitrous oxide is 300 times more polluting than CO2."

Credit: PA
Credit: PA

Nitrous oxide slows down a person's brain and body, and as a result is often used in the medical profession as a sedative.

However, Prof Elberling went on to say that prolonged exposure to the gas can cause one to go totally 'cuckoo'.

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He explained: "After nosing about in guano for several hours, one goes completely cuckoo.

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"One begins to feel ill and get a headache. The small nitrous oxide cylinders that you see lying in and floating around Copenhagen are no match for this heavy dose, which results from a combination of nitrous oxide with hydrogen sulphide and other gases."

And with such huge amounts of the gas found in penguin droppings, it's hoped that this new piece of research will go some way to improving scientific understanding of its effects on the environment.

Credit: PA
Credit: PA
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Prof Elberling added: "While nitrous oxide emissions in this case are not enough to impact Earth's overall energy budget, our findings contribute to new knowledge about how penguin colonies affect the environment around them, which is interesting because colonies are generally becoming more and more widespread."

Earlier this month, a group of penguins in the US were taken out of their zoo and spent the day wandering around a museum.

The penguins, who are used to being surrounded by people have been left alone at Kansas City Zoo while it's temporarily closed down due to the coronavirus pandemic, so their keepers decided to give them a bit of a change of scenery.

Julián Zugazagoitia, executive director and CEO of the museum, said: "We are so happy to today welcome our colleagues from the zoo and they've brought special friends and we're seeing how the react to art.

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"They seemed to react much better to Caravaggio than to Monet. We were speaking a bit in Spanish and they really appreciated art history."

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: Science, Interesting

Dominic Smithers

Dominic graduated from the University of Leeds with a degree in French and History. Like you, Dom has often questioned how much use a second language has been. Well, after stints working at the Manchester Evening News, the Accrington Observer and the Macclesfield Express, along with never setting foot in France, he realised the answer is surprisingly little. But I guess, c'est la vie. Contact us at [email protected]