Swedish man survives two months in sub-zero temperatures by 'hibernating' in car, theory says

A Swedish man who was found alive after spending two months trapped in a car in freezing temperatures survived by eating snow and hibernating "like a bear," according to one theory.

The man, identified by various media as Peter Skyllberg, was recovering in Norrlands University Hospital on Monday after being rescued last week.

The 44-year-old was found Friday by a man on a snowmobile who sighted Skyllberg's snow-covered vehicle on a deserted road near the northern town of Umea, just south of the Arctic Circle.

When rescuers arrived at the scene, Skyllberg was emancipated and barely speaking. He had no food or water with him, only cigarettes and comic books, the Daily Mail said. It was believed he had been eating snow.

On Sunday, medical experts were puzzling over how Skyllberg -- who told police he had been in the car since December 19 -- managed to survive in temperatures as low as -22F.

Dr. Stefan Branth, from Uppsala University, suggested that Skyllberg may have stayed alive by hibernating, The Guardian reported.

"A bit like a bear that hibernates. Humans can do that. He probably had a body temperature of around 31C [88F], which the body adjusted to. Due to the low temperature, not much energy was used up," Branth said. Normal healthy body temperature is around 99F.

However, that theory was dismissed by Norrlands University Hospital's chief medical officer, Dr. Ulf Segerberg, who said that Skyllberg's car likely kept him warm by providing insulation similar to an igloo.

"Igloos usually have a temperature of a couple of degrees below 0C [32F] and if you have good clothes you would survive in those temperatures and be able to preserve your body temperature," Segerberg said.

Segerberg added that Skyllberg, who is estimated to have lost up to 44 pounds, was "feeling well" as he recovered from his ordeal.

While it was not immediately clear why Skyllberg had been in his car since December, reports emerged Sunday that he suffered numerous personal setbacks recently and may have been trying to take his own life.

"He had a girlfriend but she ran out. And then he also had problems paying bills and the rent," a source close to Skyllberg said, according to Aftonbladet newspaper.

Aftonbladet's report, cited by The (London) Daily Telegraph, added that Skyllberg's debts totaled 1.6 million Swedish Kronor (US$238,000), and a court in December ordered the seizure of his rental properties.

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