Any regular reader knows that the Webner House blog rigidly adheres to the highest standards of propriety and refinement. Occasionally, however, exceptions must be made when a rippingly good fart story surfaces.
Consider the recent scholarly article in the academic journal Current Biology, in which the authors attempted to determine the magnitude and climatological effect of dinosaur farts. The authors, from universities in England and Scotland, calculated that dinosaurs produced an eye-watering 520 million tons of gas annually — enough, they believe, to help cause the warm climate that existed 150 million years ago, because the dinosaur blasts consisted largely of methane, one of the greenhouse gases. Curiously, the article makes no effort to determine the effect of the dinosaurs’ colossal flatulence on odor conditions during the Mesozoic Era or helps to explain why the Tyrannosaurus Rex was always so ill-tempered.
The dinosaurs’ astonishing gas production is especially impressive when you consider that they cut the cheese without the assistance of White Castle hamburgers, nachos, or beer. In any event, the findings in the study also lend credence to the theory that dinosaurs belonged to fraternities, were possessed of a sophomoric sense of humor, and first coined the comment “he who smelt it, dealt it.”
A coroner in Ireland ruled last week that a man who died at his home last December was the victim of spontaneous human combustion. The man’s body was totally consumed by fire, with damage to the floor below him and the ceiling above him, but no other injury to the room or its furnishings. The baffled coroner was skeptical of the concept of spontaneous human combustion but could find no other explanation for the victim’s death.
Spontaneous human combustion has been hotly debated (pun intended) for centuries. The argument about the real cause of death arises when, as occasionally occurs, a person’s body is found consumed by flames, with no apparent source of ignition and no damage to the surroundings. In some cases, the body is reduced to ashes — which requires temperature of thousands of degrees — yet an appendage, like a hand or foot, is left bizarrely untouched. And although scientists are skeptical, and insist that there must be some external source of ignition, the case in Ireland is one of many documented cases of human death by burning where there is no apparent cause.
Some believe that cases of spontaneous human combustion are supernatural in origin. Scientists who accept the concept of spontaneous human combustion, however, have developed different theories to explain such incidents. Some believe that the cause may be the build-up of methane in the intestines that is ignited by enzymes; others theorize that the cause is static electricity or geomagnetic forces. In any event, the fat deposits in the body constitute a flammable substance that acts like the wax on a candle. Once ignited, the melted fat soaks into the clothing and other body parts and keeps the body burning until it is consumed.
Yikes! As if we needed any more incentive to shed that unsightly — and flammable — excess body fat!