The Universe and Me

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Winter is watching us

I read a book last week that mentioned that to survive winter, frogs create their own antifreeze. That sounded too general, if not impossible, so I thought I’d look up what really happens. Turns out it’s not all frogs. The phenomenon concerns mostly wood frogs, boreal chorus frogs (I can’t help wondering what their songs sound like), spring peepers and gray tree frogs. When temperature drop below freezing, these frogs, seemingly by magic, flood their cells with glucose, a natural body sugar. Not actual antifreeze, which is ethylene glycol, an alcohol. Glucose prevents formation of ice crystals in their cells, body cavities, and under the skin as well as in their vital organs. With up to 65% of their bodies frozen, they stop breathing and their hearts stop beating. When the weather warms up, they thaw out. Their hears and lungs resume activity. Nice trick.


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