Questions for ‘Hibernation: Secrets of the big sleep’

Do tenrecs, like this species, really hibernate? Scientists are arguing what to make of its particular approach to torpor.

Frank Vassen/Wikimedia CC-BY-2.0

To accompany feature “Hibernation: Secrets of the big sleep


Before Reading:

1.  How do you think hibernation differs from sleep?

2.  Humans can’t hibernate — yet. Can you think of any reasons we might want to?

During Reading:

1.    Why do Arctic ground squirrels and other animals go torpid or hibernate?

2.    Describe what the adenosine A1 receptor is and why it’s important to both humans and ground squirrels.

3.    Name at least five ways that a ground squirrel’s body functions will change during hibernation.

4.    What does a hibernating ground squirrel do every two to three weeks?

5.    Why do some scientists think bears are not true hibernators?

6.    What would happen to a person’s bones if they stayed lying in bed all winter (much as bears do)? 

7.    What are tenrecs and where do they live?

8.    What’s unusual about tenrec “hibernation?”

9.    What kinds of applications could hibernation research have for human medicine?

10.  Name at least four challenges of space travel that could be solved by putting human astronauts into hibernation.

After Reading:

1.  How strictly do humans control their body temperatures? How does this compare to hibernating animals?

2.  If it were possible for you to go into hibernation, would you want to? What would you use it for?