Penguin poop can ruin your whole trip to Antarctica by making you laugh left and right!
Sounds crazy? But this would be the probable scenario because a new study published in the journal “Science of the Total Environment” found extreme amounts of nitrous oxide — popularly called the laughing gas — in penguin poop. One scientist reportedly went ‘cuckoo’ while in the study field.
The new study was undertaken to find the effects of the King Penguin feces also called “guano” on soil greenhouse gas (GHG) fluxes in polar terrestrial ecosystems. And one of the findings was notably amusing: that the penguin poop contains extreme amounts of the laughter-inducing chemical.
According to CNN, one of the authors of the study, Bo Elberling noted that the amounts were “truly intense,” not something insignificant. She also shared there was enough nitrous present that made one of his fellow authors go “completely cuckoo,” while inhaling the guanos for several hours.
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Elberling also noted the amounts of the nitrous oxide in the soil where the colonies of Antarctic Penguin graze was about 100-times more than a fertilized field.
“The small nitrous oxide cylinders that you see lying in and floating around Copenhagen are no match for this heavy dose,” the author told.
He referred to the cylinders of nitrous oxide legally sold for making whipped cream but is also used as a recreational drug, that is made from a combination of gases with nitrous oxide.
“After nosing about in guano (the term given to the excrement of seabirds and bats) for several hours, one goes completely cuckoo. One begins to feel ill and get a headache.”
How the hilarious penguin poop happens
What these penguins in South Georgia — a sub-Antarctic island in the north of Antarctica feed is fish, krill, and squids. As a result their poop contains nitrogen that reaches the ground.
The bacteria present on the ground quickly does the job of converting the nitrogen into nitrous oxide, which is laughing gas, and also an unfortunate greenhouse gas.
Bo Elberling pointed out it is clear that in places where there are no penguins, the levels of the chemical are less, and vice versa – more chemical where there is more penguin.