By Peter Brookesmith
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Additional info for Creatures from Elsewhere: Weird Animals That No-One Can Explain
Like their fish ancestors and their descendants the reptiles, the amphibians are ectotherms or cold-blooded animals, which cannot generate heat and control their body temperature like the endothermic mammals and birds and are therefore totally dependent upon the environment for their warmth. They cannot keep warmer or cooler than their surroundings, and for most cold-blooded animals it is either too hot or too cold and they must always be environmentally selective. For the temperate-zone species there are basically two seasons, one when they are active, and then their inactive one when they are hibernating, although in some species there is also a third season—when they estivate.
It hibernates on land under a shallow covering of leaves and soil, plus a blanket of snow. Photo: Alexander M. com 36 & HIBERNATION naturally. Ice-nucleators are bacteria and proteins, both on the skin and in the intestine, and it is believed that the skin ice-nucleators initiate the formation of ice crystals. So these amphibians start their own freezing process as their temperature reaches 328F (08C), just above the normal freezing point. Ice formation is slower at higher temperatures and this fractional difference gives the frog more time to produce and distribute the cryoprotectant.
Some sleep under a shallow covering of soil or leaves, and the snow then provides extra insulation, but in very hard winters with poor snowpack their survival chances would be very low, so they have evolved a unique means of reducing the risk. 48F (À78C), and then revived them without ill effects. Freezing severely damages cells, deforming them and rupturing their walls, or dehydrating them as the ice crystals thaw and in doing so extract the cells’ water. Freezing can burst blood vessels and prevent oxygen and nutrients from reaching the organs.