People who are bedridden for months at a time may develop brittle bones and become weak as their muscles wither with inactivity. Hibernating bears, meanwhile, emerge from their dens ready to forage and fight—bones and muscles intact—despite four to seven months of virtual immobility. These and other physiologic feats achieved during hibernation have long held the attention of wildlife biologists, but physicians may soon take notice, too, as ursine research begins to offer insight on medical dilemmas.

View Slide Show of Bear Research Findings