A recent study and discovery in Notothenioids, has found that the species of fish has the unique ability to survive in incredibly frigid water due to a natural antifreeze. The antifreeze actually causes ice crystals to stay the same size all the time, never growing, or shrinking.
It was noted in a paper authored by Paul Cziko – of the University of Oregon that even as shifts in temperature occurred, the fish remained sustained at the same freezing point. An interesting note, as many scientists have wondered about the presence of natural antifreeze proteins that could potentially cause this exact type of event to occur inside the body of select species in truly extreme climates.
The interesting portion of the discovery isn’t the part that points to the naturally antifreeze characteristics – in terms of “keeping from freezing,” but rather the “keeping from melting” portion.
It’s become a surprise interest in the science community that really was overlooked from the start. As one scientist points out, people were so concerned with the ability to keep these creatures from freezing that they didn’t negotiate or consider the idea that the same proteins could be keeping the species from melting the natural ice crystals in the body.
Essentially, creating a constant ice pack scenario. But, this shouldn’t be looked at as a complete shock. The truth is that this is a part of adaptation, and as one scientist pointed out “adaptation is a story of trade-offs, and compromise.”
The tolerance of ice crystals in the blood stream are actually something that the species has become entirely used to dealing with. Though, the impact of the crystals are still unknown – it’s become apparent that in adjusting to the temperature – the natural “expectation” of temperature by the species has been reduced a great deal.
This is proof that evolution is not flawless, and that these ice crystals – especially the ones that were found in the vital organs of the fish – could prove to be fatal in the long term, but that still remains to be seen.
While definitive answers weren’t birthed from this research – there definitely are some key findings that will do a great deal of help for the science community as a whole – especially when evaluating evolution of various species in different climates.