Interestingly, the latest research indicates that we once had it, although we were not the best at it. When a bear wakes up from hibernation, its bones and muscles are practically the same as when it went to sleep, because its body has learned not to eat itself. Instead, a specialized metabolic process comes into play that protects the animals during a prolonged nap, provided they have sufficient supplies in advance. If they fail to do so, they must take into account that hibernation may end badly - rickets, hyperparathyroidism or bone dystrophy are some of the possibilities that, according to the researchers, could also have happened to our ancestors falling asleep for the winter.
Such changes were caused by the remains found in the Spanish cave of Sima de los Huesos, known as the bone chasm. We are dealing here with a deep shaft in which a huge number of fossils have been found, including thousands of hominin skeletons dating back some 430,000 years. This is much earlier than any Homo sapiens have walked our planet, and while discussions about the origin of the remains are ongoing, some of them are certainly Heidelberg man. At first glance, it seems impossible to determine whether these people had the ability to hibernate, but it is completely different, because all the necessary evidence is written in their bones.
The presence of annually treated lesions caused by poorly tolerated hibernation in adolescent species indicates an annually interrupted maturation process in this population, the researchers write, pointing to vitamin D deficiencies in the bones caused by a lack of exposure to sunlight. Scientists suggest that the hominins may have tried to sleep through the difficult cold months, as indicated by scarring of the bones from prolonged sleep without adequate fat stores, vitamin D deficiencies, and strange seasonal spikes in teenagers. And although this clearly indicates hibernation, it should be remembered that this is only preliminary research and more will be needed, especially since the scientists themselves indicate that this sounds a bit like science fiction: - Information that people could enter a hypometabolic state analogous to hibernation may sound like science fiction, but the fact that hibernation is used by very primitive mammals and primates suggests that the genetic and physiological basis is preserved in many mammals, including humans.