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Posted by on Jan 20, 2014 in Nature, Science | 0 comments

Woolly Bears and Human Icicles

See this guy?

woollybear - Moynahan

That’s Pyrrharctia isabella, affectionately known as the woolly bear caterpillar. I found it inert among loosely stacked fence boards, sheltered from the snow and wind, but not from the biting cold. It appeared to be quite dead and, had I not noticed it, it would have ended up in my fireplace—a sad irony for a creature whose genus name shares a common root with the word pyre.

But I did notice it. And I knew it wasn’t dead. Woolly bears don’t freeze to death. They freeze to live. There’s a special biochemical magic that keeps them and  a handful of other creatures alive while frozen. And there are people out there trying to figure out how to do that with humans.

To read more on frozen woolly bears and human icicles, skate on over to the Canadian Science Writers Association blog and see my post there:  Freezing to… Life: A Biological Inspiration for Cryopreservation

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