Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Primate hibernation more common than previously thought

Date:
May 2, 2013
Source:
Duke University
Summary:
Until recently, the only primate known to hibernate as a survival strategy was a creature called the western fat-tailed dwarf lemur, a tropical tree-dweller from the African island of Madagascar. But it turns out this hibernating lemur isn't alone.

Eastern dwarf lemur hibernating in its underground burrow in Madagascar.
Credit: Image courtesy of Duke University

Until recently, the only primate known to hibernate as a survival strategy was a creature called the western fat-tailed dwarf lemur, a tropical tree-dweller from the African island of Madagascar.

Related Articles


But it turns out this hibernating lemur isn't alone. In a study appearing May 2 in the journal Scientific Reports, researchers report that two other little-known lemurs -- Crossley's dwarf lemur and Sibree's dwarf lemur -- burrow into the soft, spongy rainforest floor in the eastern part of Madagascar, curl up and spend the next three to seven months snoozing underground.

By comparing the hibernation habits of eastern dwarf lemurs and their western counterparts, researchers hope to shed light on what sends hibernating animals into standby mode, and whether lemurs -- our closest genetic relatives known to hibernate -- do it differently from other hibernating animals.

"Exactly what triggers hibernation is still an open question," said lead author Marina Blanco a postdoctoral researcher at the Duke Lemur Center.

Unlike animals such as bears and ground squirrels, which hibernate to survive the cold, western dwarf lemurs hibernate to survive during western Madagascar's long dry season -- a time when temperatures top 85 degrees, trees drop their leaves and food and water are in short supply.

But the hibernation habits of Madagascar's eastern dwarf lemurs, whose homes include high-altitude forests where winter temperatures occasionally dip below freezing, were poorly known.

"It's a very different environment," Blanco said.

To find out more, Blanco and her colleagues trapped and fitted the squirrel-sized animals with temperature-sensitive radio collars before the start of the hibernation season, allowing them to find the lemurs' underground burrows and monitor their body temperature once hibernation began.

Hibernating animals tend to breathe more slowly, drop their heart rate and lower their body temperature, becoming inactive for days at a time. Dwarf lemurs are no exception.

"To the casual observer, it looks for all the world as if the animals are dead. Their bodies are cold, they are utterly still and they take a breath only once every several minutes or so," said co-author Anne Yoder, director of the Duke Lemur Center.

Western dwarf lemurs hibernate in drafty tree holes, where their body temperature fluctuates by as much as 20 degrees with the outside air. But the researchers found that eastern dwarf lemurs keep their body temperatures more constant in cozy underground burrows.

The research suggests that lemur hibernation -- and therefore primate hibernation -- may not be so different after all. "Maybe these lemurs, though they live in the tropics, look more like temperate hibernators than we thought," Blanco said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Duke University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Marina B. Blanco, Kathrin H. Dausmann, Jean F. Ranaivoarisoa, Anne D. Yoder. Underground hibernation in a primate. Scientific Reports, 2013; 3 DOI: 10.1038/srep01768

Cite This Page:

Duke University. "Primate hibernation more common than previously thought." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 May 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130502094759.htm>.
Duke University. (2013, May 2). Primate hibernation more common than previously thought. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130502094759.htm
Duke University. "Primate hibernation more common than previously thought." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130502094759.htm (accessed October 23, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Black Bear Cub Goes Sunday Shopping

Black Bear Cub Goes Sunday Shopping

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Oct. 23, 2014) Price check on honey? Bear cub startles Oregon drugstore shoppers. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

AFP (Oct. 23, 2014) One man is on a mission to boost the population of wolves in China's violence-wracked far west. The animal - symbol of the Uighur minority there - is under threat with a massive human resettlement program in the region. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Working Mother DIY: Pumpkin Pom-Pom

Working Mother DIY: Pumpkin Pom-Pom

Working Mother (Oct. 22, 2014) How to make a pumpkin pom-pom. Video provided by Working Mother
Powered by NewsLook.com
Goofy Dinosaur Blends Barney and Jar Jar Binks

Goofy Dinosaur Blends Barney and Jar Jar Binks

AP (Oct. 22, 2014) A collection of dinosaur bones reveal a creature that is far more weird and goofy-looking than scientists originally thought when they found just the arm bones nearly 50 years ago, according to a new report in the journal Nature. (Oct. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins