Sometimes dinosaurs can be spotted in the most unusual places. For example, an eagle-eyed Everything Dinosaur team member spotted a fuelled by dinosaurs sticker on a car parked next to our “dino van” at our warehouse the other day.

Fuelled by Dinosaurs
Fuelled by recycled dinosaurs. A decal spotted on a car which was parked next to Everything Dinosaur’s “dino van”. Not sure if the statement made is technically correct but we appreciated the sentiment. We note the Americanised spelling of “fueled”. Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

A Mistaken Assumption

The idea that petrol and other oil derived fuels are made up of the constituents of dead dinosaurs is a common assumption. Unfortunately, whilst it might please a petrol head to think that their super-charged, sports car is powered by long extinct animals like Triceratops and T. rex, this is not true. Fossil fuels such as petrol and natural gas are derived from the remains of (mostly) plant matter such as plankton (algae) laid down in a marine environment.

Most people understand that coal is derived from plant material, in the case of the UK, our plentiful and ubiquitous supplies of coal that fuelled the industrial revolution and industry until very recently largely consists of the remains of Carboniferous swamps and forests.

A carboniferous scene.
By the Carboniferous, the insects were already highly diversified. These swamps formed the extensive coal measures associated with the UK. Picture credit: Richard Bizley.

Fuelled by Dinosaurs

We are sorry car fans, for all you petrol heads out there, your vehicle is not powered by dinosaurs but by the ancient remains of some of the simplest, yet most important organisms on Earth – marine plankton.

Still, it’s a thought. Perhaps some clever car maker or another part of the oil or automotive industry will latch onto this misnomer and use it in their advertising. After all, not so long ago, a well-known brand of petrol advertised its fuel by stating put “a tiger in your tank”!

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