Some animals move away, others devour their fat stores or go into hibernation. But the small mammals that inspired Pokemon Pikachu (from the English term “Pika”) brave winters on the cold, dry Tibetan Plateau at more than 4,500 metres, even without such strategies. Discover a task force headed by John R. Speakman of the Chinese Academy of Sciences How does a black-lipped pika weigh a maximum of 350 grams (Ochotona curzoniae) Survive in extreme conditions. The team also writes in PNAS magazine., they follow a two-pronged strategy: on the one hand, they dramatically reduce their metabolism – and on the other hand, they eat the feces of the yak lying around.
Even the latter seemed implausible to experts, Lead author transferred Speakman to “National Geographic”. But the unusual behavior makes sense. Because yak dung not only contains unused nutrients, but is also an easily accessible food source – while everything else is scarce. Accordingly, where there are more yaks, there are also more black-lipped pika rabbits. On the arid plateau, winter temperatures drop to minus 30 degrees Celsius. The team provides several clues for this behavior, known as coprophagia. He’s found yak DNA in the stomachs of dead black-lipped pikas – they’re unlikely to have eaten yaks directly – and the gut microbes of the two species are more similar in winter. During the 13-year surveillance, the group also caught red-handed fecal eaters, it said in its post.
No less remarkable than the second part of The Winter Strategy. They significantly reduce metabolism. Experiments conducted by the working group using labeled water showed that the animals consume about 30 percent less energy in the winter by specifically lowering their body temperature. They also move much less. Yak feces are crucial for the latter. They are easy to find, so rabbits are unlikely to encounter predators such as hawks or foxes, especially since the team’s research also indicates that the animals store dung patties in their den. A side that may not find its way into the world of Pokemon.