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Put a tyrannosaur in your tank

The term “fossil fuel” is an evocative phrase, and it got me wondering recently: exactly how many fossils does it take to make our fuel?


Petroleum comes mostly from prehistoric plankton, and coal is basically compressed 500-million-year-old salad. But plants and plankton aren’t any fun. I want to know how many tyrannosaurs it takes to fuel a Honda.

Fortunately, someone has already put in the work for me. One tyrannosaur is roughly equivalent to 460 gallons of gas, enough to drive my ’96 Honda Accord about 13,000 miles.

This is surely a crude estimate (ha!), but close enough for my purposes. If I have my way, we’ll be launching our “Buy a TerraPass, save a dinosaur” campaign any day now.

UPDATE: A commenter points to this study (conducted by an actual scientist, not some joker on Google Answers). The study takes into account the incredible inefficiencies in the process of turning organic matter into oil, which yields an actual conversion rate of 15 tyrannosaurs per single gallon of gas. In other words, it would actually take about 7,000 dinosaurs to keep my Honda going for a year.

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