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Old 08-06-2016, 02:26 AM   #1
Tallor
 
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Default Sliding Scale of Hibernation

I've learned that Hibernation 1-2 is essentially just a series of specialized naps, not allowing a creature to truly hibernate through winter, but at least run on much less food while the plants and animals return over time.

Somewhere in the 6-8 range I think is true hibernation, allowing a creature to doze off in late autumn and rub the sleep from their eyes in early spring.

And of course Hibernation 10 is close to cheap starship cryosleep, where the creature can go about 2.8 YEARS without needing another drink of water.

Does anyone have more specific details that would put it all on a list?
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Old 08-06-2016, 02:36 AM   #2
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Default Re: Sliding Scale of Hibernation

Very few hibernating animals remain in that state the entire season. Most increase their metabolism to sleep, then go back, or even wake up slightly to eat nearby food.
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Old 08-06-2016, 12:48 PM   #3
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Default Re: Sliding Scale of Hibernation

No real animal "goes without food" when hibernating, going dormant, going into torpor, or just hiding - they have to eat enough for three+ months before packing it in, or they wake up early (and starving) or simply never wake up at all as they die from starvation without waking (a particular problem with English hedgehogs).
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Old 08-06-2016, 04:01 PM   #4
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Default Re: Sliding Scale of Hibernation

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Originally Posted by Bruno View Post
No real animal "goes without food" when hibernating, going dormant, going into torpor, or just hiding - they have to eat enough for three+ months before packing it in, or they wake up early (and starving) or simply never wake up at all as they die from starvation without waking (a particular problem with English hedgehogs).
Depending on how one defines hibernation. I'd call Gurps level 10 or so more cryptobiosis than classic hibernation. Like those famous tardigrades or other life forms that can freeze, desiccate, etc. such that telling they're even alive is hard to impossible.

Human sleep reduces our resting metabolic rates by a mere 10%, so anything more than that should count for first levels, I think.
But most bears don't lower their rates below around 70% I think and maintain mostly normal body temperatures. That used to be the defining characteristic of hibernation.

For true hibernators, that waking up takes a boat load of energy, but it's still necessary for sleep, which is something that always sounded weird to me. Hibernation does NOT count as sleep in real life. I wouldn't deal with that complexity in game though.
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Old 08-07-2016, 03:18 AM   #5
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Default Re: Sliding Scale of Hibernation

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Originally Posted by Flyndaran View Post
Depending on how one defines hibernation. I'd call Gurps level 10 or so more cryptobiosis than classic hibernation. Like those famous tardigrades or other life forms that can freeze, desiccate, etc. such that telling they're even alive is hard to impossible.
That's because it's a -10 to Diagnosis! :D

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Originally Posted by Flyndaran View Post
Human sleep reduces our resting metabolic rates by a mere 10%, so anything more than that should count for first levels, I think.
But most bears don't lower their rates below around 70% I think and maintain mostly normal body temperatures. That used to be the defining characteristic of hibernation.
So bears aren't even "Hibernation 1"? That's disappointing. :(

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Originally Posted by Flyndaran View Post
For true hibernators, that waking up takes a boat load of energy, but it's still necessary for sleep, which is something that always sounded weird to me. Hibernation does NOT count as sleep in real life. I wouldn't deal with that complexity in game though.
Are there any prime examples of creatures that are more hibernate-y than bears, but less than tardigrades? Insects, birds, lizards, etc? I'd google it but that takes the adventure out of it.
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Old 08-07-2016, 01:51 PM   #6
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Default Re: Sliding Scale of Hibernation

Full cryptobiosis is more than negative anything as literally all metabolic activity stops. Until and unless they rehydrate/thaw/etc. they are for all intents and purposes not alive.

Bears do sleep very deeply and live off body fat in ways normal mammals can't. They also re-process their urea to avoid wasting water urinating. So it's just as amazing as classic hibernation.

If you count nightly torpor, then hummingbirds go into deeper hibernation than most animals. Heart rates drop from over 1000 per minute to fewer than 60 just to avoid starving to death while the slept.

But I don't know of any human sized animal that hibernates in the classic sense. It's probably a size issue like how hard it is to cook or thaw a large turkey versus a single McNugget.
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Old 08-07-2016, 04:16 PM   #7
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Default Re: Sliding Scale of Hibernation

Bears didn't used to be considered "true" hibernators, but with more study they've had to re-evaluate that. They've adjusted the definition of hibernation as a result of the bear studies, because of what they found.

Black bears don't change in body temperature at all (what used to be the gold standard for defining hibernation) but their pulse drops from ~45 beats per minute to 8, they don't eat, they don't drink, they don't urinate, and they don't poop. Their overall metabolic level is about a quarter of their "normal" state, and they suffer no bone degradation at all.

Under the adjusted definition of hibernation, black bears are considered "excellent" and very efficient. Animals that include dropping their basal temperature in their bag of tricks can afford to be less "over engineered" at other ways of reducing the metabolism. Black bears, having gone with a normal body temperature, go to extremes with other mechanisms to achieve the same result.

Grizzlys seem to be less adapted to hibernation (they don't hibernate at all at the southernmost ends of their range) and polar bears don't even den up for winter unless they're pregnant - but both kinds still enjoy a resistance to skeletal wasting and general metabolic slowing when they do. Female polar bears (who give birth in the den) absolutely must keep a normal body temperature like the other bears, to keep the cubs warm - but this is more of a "since I'm warm anyways, I'll give birth in the den" order of operations rather than "since I give birth in the den, I must stay warm".

I'm not sure even the black bear has simple Metabolism Control (Hibernation) because their body temperature is unaffected - it's a pretty good give-away that they're not dead. An extra nuisance effect perhaps?

EDIT: Strictly, no animal I know of has just the Hibernation limitation, as they can't induce the trance state willingly - only based on involuntary environmental triggers. Many (like bears) have what amounts to Preparation Required or Trigger ("Enormous amounts of food intake") or something as well, or you have the hedgehog situation which I'm not even sure how to write up.
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Old 08-07-2016, 04:28 PM   #8
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Default Re: Sliding Scale of Hibernation

For clarity: african hedgehogs (the stock that the pet hedgehog is derived from in most cases) don't hibernate naturally at all. They have just enough hibernation reflex that if kept "too cold" (Below about 80F) they'll try to hibernate anyways, and if they don't get warmed up again within a few days, it kills them. It's really only for unusall "cold snaps" in their native environment. They do aestivate in the summer, which for GURPS purposes is very similar (even if it's biologically pretty different).

European hedgehogs, such as those in the wild in England, are "classic" hibernators as their body temperature drops dramatically. This is why it's so important that they be terribly fat before hibernating, as they're in such a state of "shut down" that they can't wake up to seek food in an emergency.

The bear's strategy of maintaining a higher body temperature means that they can "reactivate" early in a crisis and get a chance to find something to eat (which may fail since it's the depths of winter - but since the other option is simply "die" it's still a good option).
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Old 08-07-2016, 04:31 PM   #9
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Default Re: Sliding Scale of Hibernation

Is it really preparation required though? As in if they don't find enough food, they won't and can't go dormant?
I would have figured it was instinct to eat as not doing so means they wouldn't survive, not that it was a cause and effect.
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Old 08-07-2016, 04:46 PM   #10
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Default Re: Sliding Scale of Hibernation

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Originally Posted by Flyndaran View Post
Is it really preparation required though? As in if they don't find enough food, they won't and can't go dormant?
Bears wake up early, and may not be able to hibernate at all (leading to death by cold or death by starvation, but if food is that scarce they're in bad shape already). Hedgies have the problems I mentioned upthread, where it is unstoppable.

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I would have figured it was instinct to eat as not doing so means they wouldn't survive, not that it was a cause and effect.
It's instinct to eat, just as it's reflex to hibernate - black and grizzly bears are going to pig out in autumn even if there's a silly warm winter and they never hibernate (which I think we had here last year or the year before, they were certainly worried about it). But the bears have a "smart" hibernation trigger (or more complicated one anyways) that also requires them to be fat - and if they're fat enough to hibernate, but run out of fat before spring, it switches off forcefully.

This is the same whether they were properly fat but spring is late because winter was wacky long, or they were fat but not fat enough and they wake up in January or something freakish like that. Either way you have disoriented, starving-hungry desperate bears wandering around. I don't know if they can hibernate again if they get lucky and kill a deer or something - they certainly won't be able to pack on anything like the normal fat levels.
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