Hibernating Black Bears are Biochemical Wizards
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.