(Reuters, Thursday, June 24, 2004 Posted: 10:24 AM EDT (1424 GMT))
Bears and groundhogs escape the cold winter months by hibernating but scientists said Wednesday the trait was not limited to animals living in chilly climates.
Researchers in Germany have found that lemurs in Madagascar in the Indian Ocean, where winter daytime temperatures rise above 86 degrees Fahrenheit, hibernate in tree holes for seven months of the year.
"To our knowledge, our findings are the first physiological confirmation of prolonged hibernation by a tropical mammal as well as the first proof of hibernation in a primate," said Gerhard Heldmaier, of Philipps University in Marburg, Germany, in a report in the science journal Nature.
"This study shows hibernation has nothing to do with cold -- it may happen even in a hot or warm environment," he added. . . .
"It is an adaptation to get through periods when food is scarce. It is a mechanism of energy saving," said Heldmaier. . . .