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A first for mammals: Tropical hibernating

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12:33pm, July 20, 2004

Madagascan fat-tailed dwarf lemurs hibernate during the winter, even though daily temperatures often top 30°C (86°F).

The lemurs (Cheirogaleus medius) are the first tropical mammals, and the first primates, found to hibernate, Kathrin H. Dausmann of Phillips University in Marburg, Germany, and her colleagues report in the June 24 Nature. The animals appear to exploit their tropical conditions to hibernate with an energy-saving strategy not seen before in hibernators.

Dausmann and her colleagues monitored 53 animals fitted with temperature-sensitive radio collars. The researchers found that the lemurs hibernate from April to October, the dry season in Madagascar's winter.

Most of the lemurs settled into relat

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