Back from the Nearly Dead

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Wood Frog floating in a vernal pool.

Just a few days ago they were frozen rock hard, a frog-sicle. But today, they are barking up a storm in the pond. They’re back from the nearly dead.

Late last autumn ice began to form inside the bodies of these Wood Frogs. Glucose levels increase in their blood by as much as 200-fold in just eight hours, creating an antifreeze that preserved their tissues and organs through the long winter.

woodfrog

Female Wood Frog has just emerged

The ice penetrated throughout their abdominal cavity encasing all the internal organs. Large flat ice crystals formed between the layers of skin and muscle, and frozen lenses made their eyes white like zombie frogs. Their blood stopped flowing. As much as 65% of the frog’s total body water was locked in ice. Breathing, heart beat, and muscle movements all stopped.  The frozen frogs were in a virtual state of suspended animation. They were nearly-dead.

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