Hibernation is practiced by numerous animals: bears, groundhogs, squirrels, turtles, and many other animals do it. But humans apparently cannot hibernate – at least that is what we have already thought.
However, scientists are looking into the deep underpinnings of hibernation in animals and started to make some startling discoveries. The fact of the matter is that scientists are not thinking they can unlock the superpower of hibernation for humans. Essentially the ability to hibernate does exist in our genetic code, it is just locked away. This sort of feat could transform the way we conduct routine medical care when patients need time to rest before receiving lifesaving treatment.
Or also it has huge possibilities in the world of space travel, astronauts would be able to hibernate and snooze their way during long flights to Mars or even further into deep space.
It is widely agreed that the first time the ability to hibernate was seen was one ancestral mammal, which was a furry tree-dwelling creature. This creature lived over 65 million years ago and eventually, it evolved into some of the modern animals we see today – even humans. So if that theory is actually right, that would mean humans to possess the ability to hibernate deep in their genetic code and the human genome.
It may sound and look like science fiction but the fact of the matter is not, this has a biological truth behind it. Anne Yoder from Duke University is a biologist, who has been studying hibernation for decades. And she asserts that everyone in the field believes ancestral mammal skills are not lost, they are just no longer using them.
Hibernation is much more than just long sleep, it actually causes huge changes to metabolism. It includes a drop in body temperature and a massive reduction in heart rate while breathing. This allows an animals energy consumption to plummet and need near to nothing to survive.
The real interest in hibernation though lies in the ability to return to normal activity within a couple of minutes from waking up, with no negative effects on an animals health. Humans suffer from major health problems from just lying in bed for a few weeks, such as bone loss or muscle wasting. So this is something scientists may be able to solve by re-activating our hibernation genes.