Saturday Wrap-Up: Squirrels on the mind

Arctic ground squirrels are Alaska’s Rosetta stone to unlocking hibernation. Hibernation’s an amazing skill to have. It helps us understand how zombies and lengthy space travel could exist. I’ve talked about how ground squirrels avoid heart attacks when putting their body through the jolt of hibernation — a skill humans would like to learn.

“What the Supercool Arctic Ground Squirrel Teaches Us about the Brain’s Resilience” – This week, Scientific American took its readers on a trip across the street from researcher Kelly Drew, to Brian Barnes’s lab.

One of the things Barnes studies is torpor — it’s a sleep-like state animals enter during the hibernation season. As in, ground squirrels wake up in the winter — briefly. This is key to their survival, the article points out. The article journeys into ground squirrel brains and examines individual neurons throughout the winter months.

Yes, it’s a short wrap-up today. We’re getting ready for a trip to Eagle Summit tomorrow. Never been out there, quite excited to see what plants we can find.


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