Frogs Freeze to Survive the Alaskan Winter
How Turning Into a Frogsicle Prevents Death
by Simone Scully
Less than three inches long with paper-thin skin, wood frogs might seem like one of the most unlikely creatures to be able to endure Alaska’s frigid winters. However, it turns out they take a rather Zen-like approach to the cold, becoming one with their environment by freezing along with it.
For as long as seven months, up to 60 percent of their bodies freeze solid. They stop breathing. Their heart stops beating. This semi-frozen state allows them to survive temperatures that that dip below zero, explains Brian Barnes, researcher and director of Arctic Biology at the University of Fairbanks, Alaska. Come spring, they thaw out and come back to life.
Scientists have known for decades that the amphibians deep-freeze when the mercury drops. However, this is the first time they’ve been observed surviving such low temperatures or for such a long stretch of time. It’s also the first time that researchers might have an explanation for why these critters don’t just turn into permanent frogsicles…
(read more: Audubon Magazine)
photo Dave Huth/Flickr