Friday, 6 September 2013

World's Only Hibernating Primate Has Strange Sleep Patterns

Madagascar's fat-tailed dwarf lemur is the only primate known to hibernate. Now, scientists have found that the primate is also the only animal known to fully fall asleep while hibernating in its natural environment.

Since lemurs are closely related to humans, the new finding may help to explain some of the fundamental and largely unknown roles of sleep in humans.

Sleep offers the body a chance to recharge energy burned during the day. This is especially important for active animals that burn large amounts of energy while looking for food or escaping predators each day. The process seems less important, however, for animals in hibernation, since hibernation is an inactive state of torpor in which the animal's body is neither fully awake nor fully asleep, and metabolism almost completely halts.

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