Scientists have discovered that ancient people could hibernate
A team of archaeologists have found signs in the fossils of the bones of ancient people indicating that they may have slowed down their metabolism and hibernate..
While excavating the caves of the Sierra de Atapuerca in northern Spain, scientists from the Democritus University of Thrace have noticed that dozens of our hominid ancestors have annual seasonal fluctuations in bone growth. These disorders are caused by a significant slowdown in the metabolism of the first people in the winter..
Having studied in detail the structure of changes in the remains, the team made the assumption that our distant ancestors could plunge into a state of numbness or deep sleep for several months in order to survive in cold conditions with limited food reserves due to their own fat reserves..
According to archaeologists, more than 400 thousand years ago, the investigated cave served as a burial ground for the early Neanderthals or their predecessors..
In their publication, the scholars also considered the counter-argument concerning the lack of such ability among the northern peoples. They argue that the Sami and Inuit had access to high-calorie foods (fatty fish and deer fat) to provide them with sufficient energy during the winter. On the contrary, half a million years ago in Spain in cold weather, the first people could not provide themselves with a sufficient amount of fatty food..
Many researchers took an interest in the authors’ claim and questioned them, pointing out high energy requirements of the brain during torpor without sufficient decrease in body temperature, threatening their survival in such a state for several months..
To determine the true causes of defects, scientists will look for signs of related genetic changes. Researchers used similar methods earlier this year to determine the causes of the extinction of mammoths..
text: Ilya Bauer, photo: Getty Images