Please Explain: Hibernation

Friday, December 18, 2009

Our latest Please Explain looks into why and how animals hibernate. We’re joined by Dr. Matthew Andrews, Professor and Head of Biology at the University of Minnesota Duluth, and Dr. Hannah Carey, Professor, Department of Comparative Biosciences, University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine.


Dr. Matthew Andrews and Dr. Hannah Carey,

Comments [17]

Michael Hatsko from Sparta NJ

Thank you for such a interesting subject!
I listen to your show, as much as I can.
My question is, how is it possible that during the winter if, it's freezing cold, and a mammal is hibernating, that they would not get frostbite?? or damage to organs and such..

Dec. 19 2009 02:27 AM
Dorothy from Chelsea

The seeds found in the pyramid did NOT germinate. Some Egypt guides tell you the seeds did germinate but that doesn't make it true. However it's a nice story.

Dec. 18 2009 01:57 PM
april buther from Stamford, ct

We just heard -- what we think is a squirrel -- in the attic last night...since it's heading into hibernation season, what are the odds we'll catch it before then? It was pretty active last night (at 1am). What would be the best way/time to catch it before it remains for the winter.

Thank you. GREAT show! Last week too.

Dec. 18 2009 01:55 PM
Amy from Manhattan

Oh, yeah, I forgot 1: There's a song about a robin in the winter:

"The north wind doth blow, and we shall have snow/And what will poor Robin do then, poor thing?/He'll hide in the barn to keep himself warm/And hide his head under his wing, poor thing."

Do robins hibernate? Do they migrate? Do they actually hang around humans' buildings to stay warm in the winter?

Dec. 18 2009 01:55 PM
Tina Bissell from Ann Arbor, MI

Michigan Tech is developing IP based on black bear hormones that allow black bears to hybernate without using bone mass - implications for space travel and osteoperosis.

Dec. 18 2009 01:53 PM
Richard Francisco from Lower East Side

Do Lemmings, Lemmus lemmus, ... Do they hybernate?
What is the relationship to hemmoragic events, if any?

Dec. 18 2009 01:52 PM
Anne Harding

What about the idea that seasonal affective disorder actually represents the remnants of human hibernation?

Dec. 18 2009 01:52 PM
steve from Brooklyn

What about keeping people with severe spinal injuries cold during transportation from a site of an accident to the hospital? What about babies that get cold and reach lower body temps that would kill and adult? How does these human examples relate to hibernation?

Dec. 18 2009 01:51 PM
jen from cobble hill

Yogis who master deep meditation can slow their heartbeats, supposedly. Any connection?

Dec. 18 2009 01:50 PM
Amy from Manhattan

I was going to call in, but I have too many questions!

What cues trigger the start & end of hibernation? Air temperature? Day/night length ratio? Is it different for different kinds of animals? Is global climate disruption messing up the relation btwn. these 2 factors, the way it's screwing up the timing of flower blossoming vs. pollinator activity?

What about the relation btwn. these factors (& possibly others) & food availability? Could waking of underground hibernators be in response to changes in air pressure or the effects of warming of the outside air on the soil they burrow into?

Dec. 18 2009 01:47 PM
Ann Jordan from Warwick, NY

I would like to ask why deer don't hibernate since they have such a very difficult and, I think, tragic time getting through the winter finding food and surviving until Spring.

Dec. 18 2009 01:46 PM

I have heard about a frog that boros beneath mud as it dries out, and stays there tell the next rainfall is this a form of hibernation?

Dec. 18 2009 01:45 PM
John from Oakland, NJ

What happens in the winter to animals that are common to the NYC suburbs, e.g. squirels, chipmunks, turkeys, foxes, skunks, deer, etc?

Dec. 18 2009 01:44 PM
Christy from Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Is hibernation an important and necessary part of a healthy life cycle for these animals? Or just a coping mechanism? I am wondering about bears in zoos, for example, who are out and about all year 'round. Does this adversely affect their health?

Dec. 18 2009 01:42 PM
Leslie from Norwalk, CT

I wonder if animals that estivate - the opposite of hibernate - like crocodiles also have the same wake patterns during their estivation cycle.

Dec. 18 2009 01:37 PM
Hector Carosso from NYC

What are the realities/possibilities of suspended animation, as popularized in sci fi films, for humans in long space flight? As you study and understand hibernation more, do you see such human applications?

Thank you.

Dec. 18 2009 01:35 PM
Rick Bruner from Morningside Heights

I'd be interested if you ask whether humans have the hibernation gene. I recall hearing something like that, I believe on your show, in an interview the Sanjay Gupta about his new book "Cheating Death," in which he tells the story of a woman who had been frozen in a lake who was revived after hours of not breathing or heart beating. He had some adage to the effect of "Your not dead till you're warm and no heartbeat."

Dec. 18 2009 01:31 PM

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