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Study shows that early humans may have hibernated through winter

If only we could do it as well…

Humans can’t hibernate. We have known that, yet we tried and failed. We just don’t have that capacity which are built into most mammals.

But, a recently published study indicates that early humans might have had this ability at some point. They haven’t drawn upon a conclusion yet, but it certainly looks like they tried their hand at it.

What scientists say

Study shows that early humans may have hibernated through winter 1
Shutterstock

Scientists found out the remains of some of these humans in a Spanish cave called Sima de los Huesos, otherwise known as the chasm of bones. The cave contains large amounts of hominin fossils that date around 430,000 years.

This was a long time before the advent of Homo Sapiens and there’s been some discussion as scientists couldn’t exactly pinpoint the species. But some have been identified to be H. heidelbergensis. 

So how did scientists know they hibernated? Well, they were able to identify some telltale marks on the fossils. They wrote that there was evidence of annual healing caused by non-tolerated hibernation in adolescent individuals and signs of vitamin D deficiency due to the lack of sunlight exposure was also seen.

The theory is that these hominins could’ve tried sleeping through the harsher winters and hence, their bones display the scars of months of sleeping without enough fat stores, lack of vitamin D and unusual seasonal growth spurts. All of this sounds a bit too “science fiction” at this point and we can’t really jump the gun here. If it’s indeed true, this hypometabolism can still be preserved in us humans as well.

There can be other explanations for the bones found in Sima so we will have to wait for the scientists’s verdict.

 

 

(Cover: De Agostini/Getty)

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