Hibernating Black Bears are Biochemical Wizards

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New research published recently in the journal Science suggests that hibernating black bears significantly reduce their metabolism but not their core temperature. This finding flies in the face of most other species that winter hibernate, with core temperatures that drop to a touch above freezing. Bears appear to be able to cut their metabolism by up to 75% while still keeping core temperatures near a normal awake state. The Times and Democrat has a write up about the study and its findings.

He said that if scientists could better understand the mechanisms behind the lower metabolic demand, it might be possible to develop new therapies and medicines for people. While it would require a lot more research, scientists say understanding how the process of hibernation works might aid in preventing osteoporosis and muscle atrophy from disuse - possibly allowing doctors one day to place injured, disabled people in a type of suspended or reduced animation until they are healed.


hunter25's picture

Interesting study and really

Interesting study and really amazing how so many animals have different operating systems for the conditions they live in and need to survive. The thoughts Jaybe put make sense and could be a logical reason.

Ca_Vermonster's picture

Pretty cool finding.  I know

Pretty cool finding.  I know plenty of people that sleep half the year away.

Wonder what their core temperature is? lol

 On a side note, I wonder why they would still require some readjustment time to come out of their sleep.  I would think that if they maintained their core temperature, they should be able to become alert quicker.

Maybe part of their fight or flight body process.  Huh.

jaybe's picture

That's Cool

That's really cool - but apparently not too cool.  lol

I suppose part of the reason why they need to keep their core temperature up is because of the fact that black bears have their babies while they are hibernating. Their bodies probably need to stay above a certain temp so that the fetuses can develop correctly and birth can take place properly.

I don't know if other mammals have their young during hibernation or not, but that could be the very reason why their temp doesn't drop significantly.