How A Tired Shrew Slept Through The Dinosaur Extinction
Those who are light sleepers will understand how easy it is to be woken up throughout the night by the slightest noise or movement around you, so its hard to believe that a group of small, quite possibly very sleepy shrew-like animals slept through the entire extinction of Dinosaurs 65million years ago…
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Eating eight almonds and two dates when you wake up could be all it takes to help you sleep better and slim down.Dr Nerina Ramlakhan
The tiny tired mammal called a common tenrec (Tenrec ecaudatus), weighing just two pounds and found in the forests of Madagascar, is considered a living fossil from the Late Cretaceous. Their interesting sleeping habits are shedding light on their early ancestors, which appear to have peacefully hibernated below ground without a stir 65 million years ago, all whilst aboveground the catastrophic extinction had killed off all the dinosaurs, which was most likely caused from a cosmic impact.
Research has been carried out to find how these very lucky ancestors of today’s mammals managed to survived extinction, fifteen of the Hedgehog like creatures (known as tenrecs) from Madagascar were fitted with a radio transmitter device that included a body temperature logger and then released back into the wild.
After tracking the drowsy little animals for a two-year period, they found some shocking results.
“One adult male hibernated for nine months until we were forced to dig it up, because the radio transmitter batteries were dying,” study lead author Barry Lovegrove, an evolutionary physiologist at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa, told Live Science.
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Photo - Mark Dumont (Flikr)
Usually we associate hibernation
with animals living in cold regions in winter conditions. But the
tenrec is the first known tropical mammal found to hibernate for
long stretches without waking normal mammals periodically arouse
for 12 to 24 hours before going back into hibernation!
It's a good indication that tenrec
ancestors were also heavy sleepers, capable of hibernating through
something as catastrophic as the event that wiped out the
dinosaurs. To put it into perspective, a trip to Mars would take
about nine months, equivalent to the time that the male tenrec
hibernated. We imagine the ancestors had a very big surprise when
they eventually woke up! But we are sure the hedgehog like
character felt hugely refreshed and full of energy after that
mammoth deep sleep!
The findings were published in the
journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.