Human Hibernation?

Ruchira Parikh

A Swedish man was discovered just a few days ago in a snow-inundated car near the city of Umea in northern Sweden.

He had been caught in an avalanche while driving through the city on December 19, 2011. Since then, he has survived for an entire two months with nothing but a sleeping bag and snow to live off.

The normal temperatures in the area over the past few weeks were reported to be near -22 degrees Fahrenheit.

The man, who was discovered on Friday by a group of tourists who had gone snowmobiling, is currently being treated at the Umea University Hospital for hypothermia and malnutrition. But paramedics are shocked that he even survived for this long.

His car was completely buried under snow and he could only drink melted snow. A typical human being can survive up to four weeks without food (and yet, he went without food for eight weeks), but doctors believe that it was the melted snow (essentially, water) that saved him because humans cannot survive very long without water.

Doctors also believe that as a coping and survival method, his body might have gone into hibernation mode for a few weeks. That is to say, he might have slept continuously for a few weeks the way bears and other animals do during the winter. This might have allowed his body to conserve energy and to not use up as many calories in trying to keep itself warm.

Scientists and doctors are currently inquiring into this new idea of human hibernation, but for now, they are glad that the patient is safe and sound and is recovering quickly.