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Friday, December 6, 2013

Word of the Day hibernaculum

Word of the Day

  • hibernaculum
  • audio pronunciation
  • \hye-ber-NAK-yuh-lum\
: a shelter occupied during the winter by a dormant animal (as an insect or reptile)
"The affliction has spread and stands to threaten major bathibernacula to the south and west." — From an article by Curtis Runyan in Nature Conservancy, Winter 2009

"The Game Commission estimates that close to 100,000 bats hibernated in Long Run Mine as recently as two years ago, making it the largest hibernaculum in the state then." — From an article by Mary Ann Thomas in the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, October 28, 2013
If you're afraid of snakes or bats, you probably won't enjoy thinking about a hibernaculum, where hundreds, even thousands, of these creatures might be passing the wintry months. Other creatures also use hibernacula, though many of these tend to be a bit inconspicuous. The word "hibernaculum" has been used for the burrow of a woodchuck, for instance, as well as for a cozy caterpillar cocoon attached to a wintry twig, and for the spot in which a frog has buried itself in the mud. Hibernacula are all around us and have been around for a long, long time, but we have only called them such since 1770. In case you are wondering, "hibernate" didn't come into being until the second decade of the 19th century. Both words come from Latin "hibernare," meaning "to pass the winter."


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