Evidence of bones found in one of the world’s most important fossil sites suggests that ancient humans coped with extreme cold hundreds of thousands of years ago by hibernating.
Scientists argue that lesions and other signs of damage in the fossilized bones of early humans coincide with damage to bones in other animals that hibernate. This suggests that our predecessors coped with cold winters by slowing down their metabolism.
The findings are based on excavations in the Cima de los Huesos cave in northern Spain.
As the researchers describe in the scientific journal L’Anthropologie, this is the first time they excavated the site. The fossils found there showed seasonal fluctuations, which suggest that bone growth has been disrupted for several months of each year.
They suggest that ancient humans were “in metabolic conditions that helped them survive for extended periods of time in cold conditions.” This function helped them live with limited food supplies and sufficient body fat. Hibernation influenced the fact that the development of bones was disturbed.