In the far northeast of Greenland, musk oxen graze across the tundra. As Arctic creatures, they must collect enough energy to pass through the cold and dark winters. So when the bright summer comes, they eat as if they depend on life.
Their lives are so extreme, and scientists have wondered: Do you have a circadian clock?
Most creatures on Earth live in a daily light and dark cycle. Time to eat, sleep, digestion, etc. Scientists believe that the 24-hour internal clock helps maximize the survival of the organism, for example by not wasting energy at times when food can be difficult to find. Evolution clearly preferred this approach. The circadian clock is present in almost all living things.
However, the long arctic winter nights and endless summer days are very different from the conditions of other planets. And the researchers Paper published in the Royal Society Open Science Wednesday Musk ox’s behavior doesn’t seem to follow the daily patterns throughout the year. The most noticeable cycle in their action is the cycle that alternates between grazing and digestion, repeating every few hours, and sometimes thrown away if the sun does not go down in the summer.
The researchers used GPS rings to track 19 freely roaming musk oxen for up to three years, said Floris van Beest, an arctic ecologist at the University of Aarhus in Denmark and author of the new paper. By tracking the animal’s movements, they could tell if they were eating, resting, or moving further distances from one area to another. Then I checked if there were any patterns in these behaviors. Whether or not to repeat, how often.
“We can’t find very strong circadian rhythms,” said Dr. van Beest. This means that the animal does not seem to repeat every 24 hours.
Instead, they went through repetitive gathering matches lasting less than 12 hours. Rhythms were also very different in summer and winter, with some bulls completely losing their pattern in the sunny months and eating frequently but at random.
The researchers surprisingly found that whether musk ox retained its rhythmic behavior during the summer seemed to depend on the quality of nearby food. Those who do lush gathering have failed to maintain the pattern. People with thinner picks were obsessed with their patterns.
This means maintaining rhythm will help maximize the energy your musk ox gets from scarce foods. But it’s a rhythm that repeats every hour, not every day.
The research results are Early work on the Svalbard reindeer, Researchers tracked the animal’s body temperature and other measurements and found that it has a 24-hour cycle. But in the summer they completely ignored it and ate as much as possible whenever they could.
As for the musk ox, “we want to see how this affects your health,” said Dr. van Beest. When summer comes, when some animals go into free mode, they ask, “Are you in better shape than an animal that doesn’t?” He asked.
Now the team is gathering information about the survival and reproduction of musk oxen to see if breaking patterns in the summer creates healthier lives and more offspring in the Arctic extremes. While a 24-hour clock may be the norm, there is more evidence that it may not be as important in every place or every animal on the planet, as we think.