Monday, December 5, 2011

Antifreeze in her Veins

What critter can freeze for several years, thaw out and walk away? No, not your mean Aunt Helga.

A Siberian Salamander.

These critters can survive deep freezes of up to -50 degrees. (It's 50 degrees above zero today, and I'm cold. I can't even imagine -50. Okay, so maybe I'm a major cold weather wimp.)

The Siberian Salamander is able to create "antifreeze" chemicals in its blood. The exact mechanism through which it does so is not known, but other animals use glucose, glycerol and related compounds to protect themselves in a similar way.

As you might guess, these little animals are found primarily in Siberia, but they can also be found in in northern Kazakhstan and Mongolia, northeastern China, on the Korean Peninsula, and on Hokkaidō, Japan, in the Kushiro Shitsugen National Park. They are thought to have come from Korea originally.

Knowing that they are found in such places doesn't make me want to visit those places any time soon -- at least not in the winter!

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