Wake me up, before you go-go....
Yes, that is a sleeping little critter. Although, sleeping might not be the correct term.
Welcome to another edition of Made Up Mondays. You try to decide, am I telling the truth, or am I full of the river where you always seem to forget your paddle.
Todays subject: cute widdle mousey.
Not really. but it is cute, isn't it? I want to kiss it, and pat it, and hug it, and squeeze it, and name it George.
This rodent, a mouse, if you will, is doing something called Hibernation.
Hibernation is what some animals do for extended periods of time. The lower their body temperature to just above freezing, stop their metabolism so all the stored glucose goes to feed the brain, and slow their heart rate and breathing down to almost nothing.
When people think of hibernation, they typically think of bears hibernating in the winter. Too bad bears don't really hibernate. They do go into a deep sleep, and they slow their bodies processes, but they also get up a couple times a winter and search for food. So, it's not true hibernation.
True hibernation happens when an animal senses bad times coming. The most common is winter, but other animals and reptiles will hibernate during the hot or dry seasons, when water is scarce.
Animals hibernate because conditions are too tough for survival. Winters are too cold, and food is scarce. So in the fall, when food is abundant, animals fatten up and sleep through the cold. Or, when the dry season heats up, some reptiles and amphibians will bury themselves in the mud and hibernate until the rain comes and fills their ponds again.
Hibernation is a survival technique, and it has helped many species live for as long as they have.
Hibernation is still mostly a mystery to scientists. They don't know what the triggers are. They're pretty sure they are environmental, but haven't found them yet.
But, they do know that if humans are ever to explore beyond our solar system, we need to figure out how to do it.
And that brings up to todays question: Do humans have the ability to hibernate?
Decide for yourself if the following is true, or if I'm making it up.
There are two genes that act as a Hibernation Induction Trigger, (HIT), PL and PDK4.
PDK4, which is activated by hunger, stops the metabolism from processing carbohydrates which allows the glucose in the body to feed the brain and keep it alive.
PL produces an enzyme that breaks down stored fat for the rest of the body to use as nutrition.
As soon as scientists figure out what triggers these two genes, we can put hibernating creatures to sleep. Including us. Because humans have these two genes. Even though there is no evidence to suggest any hominid has ever hibernated.
So people, is Otter telling the truth? Can we put humans into hibernation if we find the correct trigger? Or am I a 'liar liar, pant's on fire, hanging from a telephone wire'?
Tune in tomorrow, same Otter time, same Otter channel to find out!
And now, a preview of tomorrows exciting post!