posted on Jan, 5 2004 @ 09:26 AM
i remeber in 1998 NASA are conducting experiments on Arctic Ground Squirrels, purpose is deep space travel suspended animation.
As temperatures drop to as low as minus forty degrees, arctic ground squirrels will spend eight months this winter in a state of suspended animation,
or hibernation. But their extreme form of hibernation is unique, and it's one that scientists still don't completely understand.
Brian Barnes studies arctic ground squirrel hibernation at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks, where he's an Associate Professor of
"We've been able to show that, curled in a ball, eyes shut tight, these arctic ground squirrels adopt the lowest body temperature ever measured in a
mammal. It's actually below freezing; it'll drop to minus two, minus three degrees Celsius. It's well known that lots of insects and some amphibia
supercool, but the arctic ground squirrel on the tundra of Alaska is the first mammal ever to be shown to supercool like that."
"Every two or three weeks they begin to shiver and shake and create heat and warm their bodies all the way back up to normal mammalian body
temperatures of around ninety-eight degrees Fahrenheit. They don't wake up at that time, but actually, they're in slow wave sleep and remain that
way for much of the time they're in high body temperature which is often only twelve or fifteen hours. They don't leave their nest; they stay curled
in a ball for most of the time, asleep, doing something, we're not sure what, something that allows them to stay alive. For at the end of that twelve
hour period they cool slowly back down, all the way to those lowest body temperatures where they'll remain for another three weeks."
"We're interested in how it is that arctic ground squirrels have evolved this adaptation to be able to turn into essentially this suspended state of
animation at sub-freezing temperatures and survive. They have hearts and kidneys and brains and livers just like we do, yet our tissues would not be
able to maintain function if made that cold for very long."