|MadSci Network: Development|
Greetings, Jean Luc! Q: Do hibernating animals continue to age besides from the forces of gravity while in hibernation? A: Yes, not even hibernation can stop the aging process. However, links to hibernation and aging are relatively scare. It has been shown in many different animals that caloric restriction increases lifespan. Moreove, it has been speculated that hibernation may provide a natural example of caloric restriction, which is known to increase longevity (www.pubmed.com - PMID: 12882342 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]). Hibernation can dramatically slow metabolism, which may decrease the generation of free oxygen radicals that shorten lifespan. This, however, remains a hotly contested issue, and the precise mechanism(s) of aging have yet to be well defined. So, it is possible that hibernation slows the aging process, but it cannot stop the process completely. Q: Are they stuck in a developmental stasis? A: No, even hibernating animals are developing, in the sense that their cells continue to be active (e.g., the replacement of dead/dying cells by "stem" cells is an ongoing process). Certain developmental processes may be slowed or "in stasis," as you put it, but development with persist in one form or another, despite hibernation. For more basic information, look up hibernation in an encyclopedia, for example: http://encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_761552980/hibernation.html For more advanced research on hibernation, some interesting work can be found at: http://www.pubmed.com (keyword: hibernation) Hope this helps, Chris Reigstad
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