For people who aren't fans of winter, animals that hibernate seem to have the right idea: It's the equivalent of burying your head under the covers until spring comes—isn't it? Not quite. Read on for more behind the science of hibernation.
Despite what you may have heard, species that hibernate don’t “sleep” during the winter.
Hibernation is an extended form of torpor, a state where metabolism is depressed to less than five percent of normal. “Most of the physiological functions are extremely slowed down or completely halted,” says Marina Blanco, a postdoctoral associate at the Duke Lemur Center in Durham, North Carolina, who studies the dwarf lemurs (Cheirogaleus spp.) of Madagascar—the only primates that hibernate on a regular schedule.
For example, when dwarf lemurs hibernate, they reduce their heart rates from over 300 beats per minute to fewer than six, says Blanco. And instead of breathing about every second, they can go up to 10 minutes without taking a breath. Their brain activity “becomes undetectable.” (See also: World’s Tiniest Animals.)
This is very different from sleep, which is gentle resting state where unconscious functions are still performed. In fact, Blanco’s research has found that hibernators have to undergo periodic arousals so they can catch some Zs!
Why do animals hibernate?
Put simply: “Hibernation is a means of energy conservation,” says Kelly Drew, a neuropharmacologist at the University of Alaska Fairbanks who studies the brain chemistry of hibernating Arctic ground squirrels. (Read more about how certain animals cope with cold.)
While hibernation is most often seen as a seasonal behavior, it’s not exclusive to cold-weather critters. There are tropical hibernators that may do so to beat the heat.
Temperature isn’t always a factor. “Some species hibernate in response to food shortages,” notes Drew. For example, echidnas in Australia will hibernate after fires, waiting until food resources rebound to resume normal activities.
Recent studies have even suggested a third reason: protection. When hibernating, “you don’t smell; you don't make any noise; you don't make any movements; so you are very hard to detect for predator,” says Thomas Ruf, a professor of animal physiology at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna. His work has shown that small mammals are five times more likely to die each month when active than when hibernating.
What actually happens when animals hibernate?
To slow their metabolism, animals cool their bodies by 5 to 10 °C (9 to 18 °F) on average. The Arctic ground squirrels (Spermophilus parryii) Drew works on can take this much further, supercooling to subfreezing temperatures.
Drew’s research has shown that cooling is likely regulated by levels of adenosine in the brain. Not only does adenosine ramp up in winter in ground squirrels, the receptors for the molecule become more sensitive to it.
But species don’t stay in their cold, comatose state for the duration of their dormant period. About 80 percent of their energy is spent intermittently waking and warming up. (Read about how groundhogs do this, going into the cycle 12-20 times during hibernation season.)
Why they do this is “one of the greatest mysteries” of the field, says Ruf. Some think they need to turn back on their immune systems to fight disease, while others think they may simply awaken so they can sleep.
Unfortunately, these arousals may drive hibernating species to extinction as our climate changes; scientists have found that animals stay active longer during arousal periods as ambient temperatures rise, depleting more of the energy they are trying to conserve.
What kinds of animals hibernate?
One bird and a variety of amphibians, reptiles, and insects also exhibit hibernation-like states. There is even at least one fish—the Antarctic cod—that slows down its metabolism in winter, becoming 20 times less active.
And, of course, there are lots of mammals. While bears might be the first that come to mind, for years questions have surrounded whether bears are really true hibernators. Unlike animals that stir regularly during hibernation, bears can go for 100 days or so without needing to wake to consume or pass anything, and they can be aroused much more easily than typical hibernators. The U.S. National Park Service suggests they are super hibernators.
Most mammalian hibernators on the smaller side.
“The average hibernator weighs only 70 grams,” says Ruf. That’s because little bodies have high surface area to volume ratios, making it more taxing for them to stay warm in cold weather—so they need the seasonal energy savings more than larger animals.
What animal hibernates the longest?
It’s harder than you’d think to award a prize for longest duration of hibernation. The obvious choice would be the edible dormice (Glis glis) Ruf works with—they can stay dormant for more than 11 months at a time in the wild. To pull that off, they have to double or even triple their body weight while active (that’s where they get their name: Romans considered their fat, tender, hibernation-ready bodies a delicacy.)
In one experiment, a big brown bat (Eptesicus fuscus) hibernated in a refrigerator for 344 days, suggesting bats may deserve the title (although, the animal didn’t exactly choose to and didn’t survive the feat).
This article has been updated to reflect the questions surrounding bears and hibernation.
You’ve spent quite a bit of time in your English classes writing argumentative essays. You’ve even gotten pretty good at writing on the topics your instructor assigns. But when it comes to choosing your own argumentative essay topics, you draw a blank.
It’s not that there aren’t any good topics to choose from. It’s that you start over-thinking it, wondering if each topic is too cliche, overdone, or just not good enough.
Chances are, all you need to do is relax and find a topic you’re passionate about and, of course, one that’s debatable.
Why Pick Debatable Argumentative Essay Topics?
The name of the essay says it all—argumentative. It would be a lot easier to write an essay on something that people generally agree on, certainly. But that’s not really the point of an argumentative essay.
It’s important to choose debatable argumentative essay topics. You need opposing points that you can counter with your own points.
The world isn’t black and white—there are a lot of gray areas. This is good because it means there are a lot of topics you can choose from.
I’ve listed 70 argumentative essay topics below, phrased as questions, to help get you started. I’ve separated the topics into five categories—legal, moral, social, media, and family. And I’ve even included a helpful link for each topic.
Feel free to use the topics for your own essay or as inspiration to create your own original topic.
14 Legal Argumentative Essay Topics
Argumentative essay topics about legal matters are a popular choice. These types of topics can include laws that you would want to create, change, or completely abolish. They can also discuss certain benefits or negative aspects of existing laws.
You don’t have to get super technical with legal argumentative essays. But you do need to do your research on what the current laws about your chosen topic actually say.
After all, you don’t want to suggest a changing a law that’s already been changed in the way you want.
- Should cigarettes and other tobacco products be outlawed?
- Should prostitution be legal?
- Do the benefits of medical marijuana justify its legality?
- Is the drinking age appropriate (should it be lower, higher, or stay the same)?
- Should nuclear weapons be outlawed worldwide?
- Should the United States put more restrictions on gun ownership and use?
- At what age should girls have access to birth control without the consent of their parents?
- Should cellphone use be banned while driving?
- Does outlawing controlled substances only create a larger black market?
- Should corporations be granted personhood?
- Should juveniles be sentenced to life in prison?
- In what situations, if any, does a woman have a right to an abortion?
- Should restaurants be required to include calories on all menu items?
- Should an added tax be placed on sugary drinks, such as sodas?
14 Moral Argumentative Essay Topics
Moral argumentative essay topics are some of the easiest to get carried away with. They can cover a variety of moral dilemmas, from animal testing to the death penalty.
These topics tend to be very debatable because people have different opinions—and justifications for those opinions—on what they think is right or wrong.
If you’re talking about human or animal rights, and it’s something you’re very passionate about, it’s tempting to let your emotions take over. While it’s good to be passionate in an argumentative essay, remember to keep your thoughts focused and organized.
It’s definitely worth your time to create an outline. It helps ensure you don’t stray off topic. If you need help crafting an outline, review these two resources:
- Is animal testing necessary?
- Should consumers buy items from countries that endorse child labor?
- Do patients have a right to die via physician-assisted suicide?
- Should children’s beauty pageants be banned?
- Are nude photographs appropriate in museums that are open to the public?
- Should schools and businesses give more incentives for people to do volunteer work?
- Are atheists less moral than theists?
- Does freedom of speech give people the right to use hate speech?
- Do people who commit heinous crimes deserve the death penalty?
- Do pre-employment drug tests infringe on personal privacy rights?
- Should employees be able to have visible tattoos in the workplace?
- Are cameras in public places an invasion of privacy?
- Should teens be allowed to have cosmetic surgery?
- Should Dreamers be allowed to stay in the United States?
14 Social Argumentative Essay Topics
Social argumentative essay topics tend to overlap with legal and moral topics. But argumentative topics deal more about how individuals act within society and what kinds of pressures society puts on individuals or groups of people.
This is a pretty broad category. There are a lot of topics to choose from and even more that you could create on your own. If you get stuck on which topic to write about, consider something that personally affects you or someone close to you.
This should make writing about that topic come more naturally. Just be sure to rely on facts and not on personal anecdotes. Such anecdotes are more appropriate to the narrative essay realm.
Remember, even though you may be writing about something that affects you personally, the argument essay isn’t usually the place for first person point of view. Most argumentative research papers require you to use third person.
- Is there too much pressure on teenagers to go to college?
- At what age should citizens be allowed to vote in the United States?
- Should more rights be given to immigrants?
- Can heterosexual men and women truly be friends with no hopes or expectations of anything more?
- In what case(s) could it be considered fair for a company to not hire a candidate who smokes cigarettes?
- Should the United States make English the official national language?
- Should women wear less-revealing clothing in order to curb men’s catcalling?
- Do prisoners deserve the right to vote?
- Should there be a legal curfew for minors?
- Can online dating replace meeting a person in real life?
- Does social media create isolation?
- Should welfare recipients be required to submit to drug tests?
- Should adoptive parents be given some form of maternity leave?
- Can video games be a useful learning tool?
14 Advertising and Media Argumentative Essay Topics
Advertising and the media have become nearly inseparable from society as a whole. Essays written on these topics can include various angles.
For instance, you could look at how media (television, news, movies, magazines, social media, etc.) affects society. But you could also look at what should be allowed to be seen or heard through media and advertisements.
Inspiration to create your own advertising or media argumentative essay topics isn’t hard to find. Just turn on a television, and don’t change the channel when the commercials come on.
Pay close attention to all things electronic. You’ll be sure to find something debatable about what you see.
- Should sex be allowed to be portrayed on prime time television?
- Where should networks draw the line for violence on television?
- Should news shows talk about celebrities?
- Do journalists have a duty to eliminate as much bias as possible?
- Is it acceptable for companies to advertise in schools?
- In what situations should advertisements for alcohol and tobacco products be allowed?
- Should warnings and side effects be made more clear in advertisements?
- Is print advertising obsolete?
- Do TV shows and movies have the responsibility of being more diverse?
- Are public service announcements effective?
- Do photoshopped images affect self-image and self-esteem?
- Do reality shows, such as Teen Mom, glorify teen pregnancy?
- Does the media create unrealistic expectations of relationships and marriage?
- Does the media attempt to create hype to influence or scare the public?
14 Family Argumentative Essay Topics
Argumentative essay topics covering family life and values are abundant. That’s because every family is different. Rules in families vary on a case-by-case basis, contrary to laws that govern a state or nation.
Because each family is different, it’s hard to generalize in this type of essay.
However, there’s a ton of research on child development and psychology, marital psychology, and personal stories from parents and their children. You can get enough information to make an argument for any of the topics below (or for a topic of your own).
Not sure where to find sources? Check out 5 Best Sources to Help With Writing a Research Paper.
- At what age should parents talk to their children about sex?
- Do children deserve/need an allowance?
- Is it okay for parents to monitor teens’ Internet use?
- Should parents be able to spank their children?
- Is it acceptable for women to breastfeed in public?
- Should parenting classes be compulsory?
- Should parents push their kids into extracurricular activities, such as music or sports?
- Are children’s rooms really theirs, or do the rooms “belong” to parents’?
- Should single people be able to adopt children as easily as couples?
- Should same-sex couples be allowed to adopt children as easily as heterosexual couples?
- Which parenting style is most effective?
- Should parents pay children for good grades?
- How does helicopter parenting harm (or help) kids?
- At what age should children be allowed to have a cellphone?
Final Thoughts on Choosing Argumentative Essay Topics
As you can see, there are a lot of debatable argumentative essay topics you can choose from (way more than are on this list).
For more ideas, read these posts:
Need to narrow down a broad topic into something more manageable? Read How to Narrow a Topic and Write a Focused Paper.
And if you’d like a few more argument essay tips, take a look these posts:
Once you’re ready to come up with a thesis, check out these argumentative thesis statement examples.
Not sure what a completed argument essay should look like? Read 2 Argumentative Essay Examples With a Fighting Chance.
When picking your topic, keep in mind that it’s much easier to write about something that you already have interest in. In fact, that’s true even if you don’t know a whole lot about it. Researching the topic will allow you to learn more about what fascinates you.
And if you pick something you actually like, writing the essay will be more enjoyable.
If you’ve wrapped up your argument but think there may be a few holes in your logic, send your essay over to the Kibin editors. They’ll help give you the winning edge in whatever you’re debating.
Psst... 98% of Kibin users report better grades! Get inspiration from over 500,000 example essays.