Photo: Daniele Colombo (flickr)
Bears hibernate for six to seven months. Scientists were never able to get a good look at what happens to a bear’s body during hibernation… until now.
When the bears began to hibernate and scientists looked their metabolism. When bears hibernate they do not eat, drink, or urinate.
Scientists were shocked to learn that bears reduce their metabolism by 75 percent yet their core temperate remained nearly the same.
The University of Alaska study gathered bears and had them hibernate in big boxes. The scientists were worried the bears would destroy the pre-made hibernation boxes but the bears seemed to enjoy them.
So, how did bears reduce their metabolism but not their core temperature?
Well, first bears have an extremely thick furry coat that keeps them warm. Second, they shiver.
When the bears were cold, they began to shiver. The shivering raised the bears body temperature just enough to keep them warm.
Scientists hope to learn more about the hibernating bears because they believe it could help humans with osteoporosis and disuse atrophy of the muscle.
They also hope to use hibernation methods when people go on long space voyages.
- Hibernating Bears ‘A Metabolic Marvel’ (NPR)
- Hibernating bears teach scientists tricks for human hibernation (The Guardian)