Scott Donnelly's blog

Metabolic Marvels of Bear Hibernation- Part 4

Welcome to Part 4 in a series of posts looking at the metabolic chemistry that allows a bear to opt to survive winter by not eating at all and by doing so increase its chances of dying from starvation. By the end of hibernation up to a third- and more for a pregnant bear- of a bear's pre-denning mass may have been devoured by the bear's metabolic and physiological needs. A remarkable animal. A remarkable study in biochemistry. Enjoy...

Metabolic Marvels of Bear Hibernation- Part 2

The post-Thanksgiving excessive calorie-consumption 'blues' have arrived. How is it possible to eat so much? For a bear, it's easy. Easy as pie. Bears are champion eaters, spending about half the year eating non-stop in preparation for winter's foodless landscape. How can this calorie consumption observation about the bear world be used to teach certain chemistry concepts routinely covered? This post includes discussion and two classroom activities about the following common general chemistry topics/concepts- thermochemistry, unit conversions, and interpretation of numerical data. Enjoy...

The Metabolic Marvel of Hibernating Bears

Millions of years of evolution has endowed brown (Ursus arctos) and black (Ursus americanus) bears with the enviable metabolic capacity to starve themselves for a long period of time and still survive. Truly, bears are chemist extraordinaires and their hibernation chemistry overall is arguably without equal in the mammalian world. Let's take an introductory look at what's going on.