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Penguins' Poop Release Laughing Gas, Making Scientists Go 'cuckoo' While Studying Them

Penguins emit nitrous oxide via their feces, a gas that has an effect very similar to the sedative laughing gas, that scientists went 'cuckoo' studying them.

Antarctic penguin

Penguins emit such amount of nitrous oxide via their feces, a gas that has an effect very similar to the sedative laughing gas that scientists went a little crazy while studying it. According to a study published on Thursday, scientists went to the Atlantic island of South Georgia that lies between South America and Antarctica to study the colonies of penguins. The researchers were surrounded by penguin poops for so long that they went 'cuckoo' while studying it, said Professor Bo Elberling, the head of the study.  

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Elberling, while talking to international media, said that after being surrounded by penguin poops for several hours one researcher went completely cuckoo while another began to feel ill and got a headache. As per the study, scientists were studying the combined effects of glacial retreat and penguin activity on soil greenhouse gas near the world’s largest King Penguin colony at Saint Andrews Bay on sub-Antarctic South Georgia. Nitrous oxide is reportedly 300 times more polluting to the environment than carbon dioxide. 

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"We found a net CH4 consumption along the entire transect with a marked decrease within the penguin colony. CO2 production strongly increased along the transect, while N2O production rates were low near the glacier front and increased markedly within the penguin colony," according to the study published in 'Science of the Total Environment'. The study also involved laboratory analysis of soil and feces samples.

Read: World Penguin Day: What Are Different Types Of Penguins And How Are They Different?

Declining penguin population

While the world is seeing a decline in little penguin colonies, scientists have also noted that penguin colonies in some parts of Antarctica have drastically declined by a shocking 75 per cent over the past half-century due to climate change. According to reports, Chinstrap Penguins found on the Elephant Island, also renowned as ringed or bearded penguins, have diminished due to a loss of habitat. 

Read: Penguins Roam Around Freely In Chicago Aquarium After It Was Shut Down For Visitors



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