Dwarf Lemurs Could Give Us Secrets About Long Term Space Exploration

Scientists have discovered that a species of lemur hibernates for up to six months a year.

Since lemurs are mammals, like humans, the potential for long term human hibernation, like say on a space mission, has the scientists excited.

The dwarf lemurs, native to Madagascar, are the first primates we know of that hibernates.

That means it does not eat, drink, or basically move whatsoever for half of the year.

Oddly enough, dwarf lemurs do not hibernate because it gets cold. In Madagascar, winter means temperatures that fluctuate rapidly, causing food to become scarce.

So dwarf lemurs do exactly what bears do, eat as much as physically possible and then some, before sleeping for an unfathomable amount of time (anyone else want to be a lemur?).

For hibernation, the lemurs slow down their metabolism and heart rate, causing their body temperatures to drop.

Yet amazingly, during hibernation the dwarf lemur will occasionally rise for 12 to 24 hours and its temperature will go back to normal levels. Scientists cannot really explain this, but the temperature goes right back down after that period and they go on hibernating.

Concerning human hibernation, scientists believe that these lemurs may hold the key to keeping us down for a few months.

"Because the lemurs are primates, our biology is more similar to them than to squirrels, so hopefully we will be able to find similar genes and processes that could help us hibernate," Biological Anthropologist at Duke University Marina Blanco said.

Scientists hope to be able to induce the type of safe hypothermia that the lemurs do during hibernation.

If humans can sleep for six months like a lemur can, space travel suddenly becomes a lot more possible.

Granted, our chances of ending up like Sigourney Weaver in Aliens goes way higher.

The study was published in the journal Scientific Reports.

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