Scientists from Democritus University in the Thrace region of Greece have discovered evidence from bones found in one of the most important fossil sites in the world, and suggest that our human ancestors may have been able to deal with extreme cold conditions hundreds of thousands of years ago by going to sleep all through winter season.
Scientists say that the ulcers and the effects of other defects appearing in the fossilized bones of early humans are similar to those shown in the bones of other animals, which go into hibernation. This indicates that our early ancestors coped with the harsh winters at that time by slowing down the processes of metabolism (metabolism) and sleep for several months.
Neanderthals and winters
Hibernation is a condition in which the activity of warm-blooded plants and animals that live in the world’s subtropics decreases during the harsh environmental conditions of winter. In this case, these organisms conserve energy in cold climates, where food sources are limited.
The scientists based their conclusions on excavations in a cave at an archaeological site called “Sima de los Huesos”, which in Spanish means “pit of bones” in the mountains of “Atapuerca” (northern Spain). Over the past three decades, the fossilized remains of dozens of people have been extracted from deposits found under a 50-foot column that forms the main part of the bone crater in the Atapuerca Mountains.
Scientists – who have found thousands of teeth and pieces of bone, apparently thrown there intentionally – describe the cave as a mass grave. These fossils date back about 400,000 years, and may belong to the Neanderthals (Neanderthal) or their ancestors.
Bone growth is disrupted
The site of the “bone pit” in the “Atapuerca” mountains in Spain is one of the most important buried fossil treasures in the world, which provided insights into the evolution of humans in Europe, according to a report published by the British newspaper “The Guardian”. However, scientists have now presented a vision that constitutes an unexpected development of this concept.
In a paper published in L’anthropologie, Juan Luis Arsoaga, the Spanish anthropologist and head of the team of scientists who excavated the archaeological site for the first time, and his colleague Antonis Bartsiocas from the University of Democritus, argued that the fossils were found. There, seasonal fluctuations appear that suggest that bone growth is stunted for several months each year.
The scientists also indicate that these humans found themselves “in metabolic states that helped them survive for long periods of time in extremely cold climates, with limited food supplies, and adequate stocks of body fat.” The scientists add that the ancient humans went into hibernation, and this has been documented as disturbances in bone growth.
These researchers acknowledge that this understanding “appears to be a kind of science fiction.” However, they point out that mammals – including those belonging to the family of primates such as lemurs and galago, also called jungle children – do so, and the team says that “the winter hibernation strategy was the only solution for the ancients to survive by spending months in a cave, because of the conditions.” Climatic conditions, which reach freezing point. “
The Guardian newspaper quotes in its scientific report on Professor Chris Stringer of the Natural History Museum in London, as saying that mammals as large as bears do not actually hibernate. Because their massive bodies cannot lower their internal temperature sufficiently. Instead, the bears sleep less deeply.