Hibernating bears' wounds heal without scars
By VICTORIA GILL - BBC NATURE
Added: Mon, 19 Mar 2012 21:36:13 UTC
Black bears emerge from up to seven months of hibernation in the spring
Black bears have a surprising capacity to heal as they hibernate, say researchers in the US.
Medical researchers and zoologists worked together to find that the bears' wounds healed with almost no scarring, and were infection-free.
The scientists hope, eventually, to find out exactly how the bears' bodies heal while their body temperature, heart rate and metabolism are reduced.
This could aid studies of human wound-healing.
The findings, published in the journal Integrative Zoology, are of particular relevance to medical researchers hoping to improve slow-healing and infection-prone wounds in elderly, malnourished or diabetic patients.
This study was part of a project by scientists from the universities of Minnesota, Wyoming and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, who have tracked 1,000 black bears, in order to monitor their health and behaviour, for 25 years.
Whilst tracking the bears - using radio collars - the researchers noticed some early evidence of their surprising healing abilities.
They wrote in their paper: "We identified a few animals each year with injuries resulting from gunshots or arrows from hunters; bite marks from other bears or predators.
"These wounds were considered to have been incurred some time before the bears denned, and were often infected or inflamed... in early winter.
"Yet typically, when we revisited bears in their dens a few months later, most wounds had completely resolved whether or not we [cleaned them], sutured the areas or administered antibiotics."
Hannah Krakauer - New Scientist Comments
Kanzi the bonobo is able to create and use stone tools
- - URMC Comments
Newer Imaging Technique Brings ‘Glymphatic System’ to Light
- - The Royal Society Comments
Research suggesting that grey parrots can reason about cause and effect from audio cues alone- a skill that monkeys and dogs lack- is presented in Proceedings of the Royal Society B today.
- - Science Blog Comments
Why, after millions of years of evolution, do organisms build structures that seemingly serve no purpose?
Charles Choi - CBS News Comments
Four decades ago, in 1972, the Koobi Fora Research Project discovered the enigmatic fossilized skull known as KNM-ER 1470 which ignited a now long-standing debate about how many different species of early Homos existed.
Adam Cole - NPR Comments
One day in May of 2011, Shaun Winterton was looking at pictures of bugs on the Internet when something unusual caught his eye. It was a close shot of a green lacewing — an insect he knew well — but on its wing was an unfamiliar network of black lines and a few flecks of blue.
MORE BY VICTORIA GILL
Victoria Gill - BBC News Comments
Canadian Researchers have discovered a pattern in birds' songs and plumage that help explain some of the colourful and tuneful variety in nature.
Victoria Gill - BBC Nature 39 Comments
In a broader sense, it could also reveal more about why animals, including humans, do things that are potentially risky but that benefit someone else.
Victoria Gill - BBC Nature 10 Comments
"In previous studies, she's managed to distinguish between two objects that differed in width by less than the thickness of a human hair."
Victoria Gill - BBC Nature 30 Comments
Zebra stripes evolved to keep biting flies at bay