Did our ancestors hibernate?

For many who hate the cold and winter, spending the whole winter asleep is perhaps a delightful fantasy; Unfortunately, unlike many mammals, we humans do not have the ability to hibernate! But a new study examined the possibility of hibernation of our human ancestors, and researchers were surprised to find that early humans may have fallen into a kind of hibernation.

When the bear wakes up for a long time from a state of dormancy or hibernation (a state in which the metabolism and body temperature decrease), it bends slightly and prepares itself to hunt and find food, in which case the bones and muscles of this animal They remain as strong as before and are safe from the body’s selfishness (to provide the energy needed). Bears have a special fuel generator to protect them from various problems caused by hibernation; But sometimes things don’t go as planned. If animals do not have enough nutrients in their bodies before hibernation, they may have many health problems.

This is apparently the case for our ancestors. Researchers say that hibernation is not always healthy. Animals that hibernate may develop osteoporosis, hyperparathyroidism, and fibrosis if they do not have enough food reserves. In fact, it is thought that our ancestors had the remains of their bones in Sima de Los Osos (In Spanish meaning hole of the bones) has been discovered, so be it.

Sierra de Atapuerca Archaeological Site Queen Sophia during a visit to the Sierra de Atapuerca Archaeological Site in 2009

The Bone Cave is located in the Sierra de Atapuerca Cave near the city of Burgas (northern Spain) and is one of the most famous archaeological sites on the Iberian Peninsula with a treasure trove of unique fossils and bone remains. The ancient cave of Sima de los ossos has been excavated every year since 1983 and a collection of 5,500 bone remains has been discovered there. These bones are thought to have been deliberately thrown into the pit.

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In this hole, skeletal remains dating back about 43,000 years have been discovered from our ancient ancestors. By this time, our present-day human ancestors had not yet reached Eurasia and southern Europe; Therefore, it is still debatable what kind of human these bones belong to. But at least some of these fossils belong to Heidelberg man. Heidelberg man – branched off from Homo erectus – is thought to have been the common ancestor of modern humans and Neanderthals. This human species lived in Africa and Europe between 700,000 and 200,000 years ago.

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Investigating that our human ancestors went into hibernation thousands of years ago may seem impossible; But Spanish anthropologists have noticed some signs on the fossils that may indicate they are hibernating. According to the researchers, they found bone lesions and injuries similar to hibernating animals in the skeletal remains of our ancestors.

The researchers hypothesized that hibernation was due to the fact that the inhabitants of the Sierra de Atapuerca cave lived during a period of harsh winters, as well as some genetic evidence. Our ancestors are thought to have tried in a kind of helplessness to fall asleep in the colder months of the year; For this reason, in their bone remnants, there are signs of damage due to lack of body fat reserves, vitamin D deficiency and a kind of periodic growth in the newly mature members of the group.

Perhaps our ancestors were able to survive the cold, icy months of the year when food was scarce through hibernation.Perhaps our ancestors were able to survive the cold, icy months of the year when food was scarce through hibernation.

Before it can be conclusively claimed that our ancestors went into hibernation, we must remember that the published results are only the result of a very preliminary study. Even the researchers themselves admit that this is a bit like science fiction. We still have a lot of unanswered questions about this; But at present there is no doubt about the effect of hibernation on the functioning of the human body.

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It is still in the realm of science fiction that man can now be in hibernation in a very slow fuel state. But many primates and primates, such as night owls and vultures, hibernate, leaving the genetic and physiological basis for such slow metabolism in mammals.

Researchers need more research to prove the existence of hibernation in our ancestors; But if this hypothesis is proven, it remains to be seen why we humans have lost this amazing ability. Of course, the hibernation hypothesis is just one of the reasons that explains the damage to the bones in the cave, and there may be other reasons for which no evidence has been found so far.

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