Many existing theories suggest that zombie blood must flow through the body in some manner.  ZRS Researcher Kate Steinem started with this baseline when looking into the commonly held belief that the undead freeze in cold weather.

First she observed that a zombie with flowing blood probably functions much more like a cold blooded animal, than the warm blooded human it used to be.  From there she found startling evidence of creatures with cold blood surviving in extreme cold temperatures that would turn a living person into a hardened block of ice in a matter of minutes.

“Several species of cold blooded fish have a special substance in their blood, glycoprotein, that acts like anti-freeze to help them survive very cold water temperatures.”

Glycoprotein depresses the freezing temperature of blood sufficiently to render the body immune to the cold.  Much like a bottle of vodka in a freezer box, while everything around it is frozen stiff, the vodka never changes from its liquid state.

Steinem argues that if the undead body is able to produce glycoprotein, or something similar, it would then have a workable system that no longer needs to regulate internal temperature to function.  Though zombies would still likely move more slowly in extreme cold, their blood would never convert into a solid, continuing to flow and power the body.

Great.  Just when I thought my escape plan to the arctic circle was fool proof.


  1. I don’t think that the undead would have blood flow as the heart and lungs would have stopped upon death and the blood would have coagulated in the veins. The heart wouldn’t be able to pump fresh blood through the veins because of all of the blood clots. The zombie virus must therefore have a means of rapidly creating a network of new veins that it can send blood through. By blood I mean breaking down the old blood cells into nutrients or even possibly hijacking the immune system to produce cells that it could then break down into nutrients that muscles would need to walk.

    The zombie would also have to somehow keep the heart active after the body dies in order to pump the nutrients through its own venous system.

    But then again perhaps the virus creates smaller “heart like nodes” throughout the infected body that pump small amounts of blood to vital areas where movement is taking place. When movement in different direction is needed the “hearts” would function like valve network and shunt blood to a particular area.

    The reason why you don’t see zombies running marathons and are slow except when they need a burst of speed can be explained by a reduced amount of oxygen to all of the body that would allow instantaneous change in direction without stopping and then moving in the new direction.

  2. I don’t think it has to do with blood flow… flesh and tissue will just freeze in a low enough temperature and without any mechanism to provide body warmth (like a living organism has).

    If they froze, they’d be immobile. Moreover, the expanding water in their cells would rupture cell walls, which would likely destroy brain tissue and kill the zombie.

    My thinking is that zombies wouldn’t survive the first good northern winter.

  3. I once witnessed a Finnish skinhead drop dead at bus stop after very painful scream which I won’t never forget. The reason why he died was because it was around -30°C and he didn’t wear any kinda hat plus he was on some drugs. After that I’ve been thinking what if zombies freeze at winter and what if the cold destroys the zombie’s brain. That would be a huge win for surviving z-pocalypse.

  4. In the picture, is that a vampire or a zombie? Looks more like one of those vampires from twilight with the makeup.

  5. The thing I have a hard time understanding is how we can be talking about blood flowing through a zombie’s body. If they are truly dead, wouldn’t the heart be stopped? If that’s the case, then there would be no flow of blood. If we’re talking about the virus infected zombies, then they would most likely be just like a normal human being and not have some strange immunity to the cold. Of course we could be talking about some kind of genetically mutated government experiment, but then all bets are off, there’s no telling what they may have in them.

  6. The surrounding tissue would still freeze rendering them immobile. Go north survivors, go north.

  7. The next problem is that the zombies may freeze but when the ice melts won’t the zombies unfreeze as well?

  8. I dunno, seems like a stretch to tie any biological possibilities to future zombies. Worms can reproduce asexually, does that mean that zombies can reproduce asexually? If there were known pathogens or infections which somehow caused the human body to produce glycoprotein. This sounds more like, find a far flung way to make these things more invincible – exercise to me.

  9. I doubt zombies can even evolve since they are dead and dead cells can’t do anything. Like this really matters anyway, what we should be worrying about is should we try to survive till the apocalypse ends or end it by killing all zombies instead of waiting it out.

    • A virus might be able to convert the dead cells into other forms of components needed for the zombies evolution. If you break down the blood into its basic components and then combine those components with other components then you have a new biological component.

  10. Fish survivng in “very cold water temperatures”, I can´t but react to that.
    How cold?
    If it´s still considered “water” I guess we´re talking non-freezing teperatures. Will glycoprotein do any good for a zombie in northern Alaska?

  11. It is doubtful that the zombie would produce glycoprotein and the whole point of having them freeze is to have their brains be destroyed by ice crystals soooo id say they would die if they went far enough north or south. Even if the zombie could survive the cold the arctic is still your best bet because it has less people and anyone’s house you find abandoned will probably have a rifle in it. So you could still hunt as long as animals aren’t zombies and any slow moving half frozen zombie you do see you can shoot in the head. Problem solved.

  12. This is how i see it. dead is dead. put some steak in the freezer what happens? it gets rock hard, put a human size piece of meat in the freezer, same thing. as far as the zombie pathogen keeping the blood warm i dont think it would ever happen unless it was engineered to do so. and asfar as iv seen or read we still dont know how or why the dead would become reanimated. also you would think that if the pathogen did heat the blood it would have to be in the temp of 106 or even higher and after some time you would thing that zombies would be slowly cooked from the inside out just to keep mobil. yeah spelling mistakes all over but you get the jist of it.

  13. Zombie/Undead. It’s whats inside the zombie that counts. If blood and other tissue was replace by fast mutating virus that are immune to freezing the zombie can still be mobile.
    Perhaps the virus has self defense against cold and able to generate heat. We will never know. Anyways thats interesting topic. That be scary if a zombie is able to use weapon such as firearm and not typical zombie we normally seen in movies, able to mutate and evolve quickly to something that hunts down human.

  14. Katrina Russell

    First of which, in order to produce body heat in a human the blood needs to flow. Apocalypse Dan, your point about the mummification process to dead body and how well they are preserved under any climate is true. But you must consider that those bodies aren’t moving, they’ve been laying still. If the dead is walking, they can rip they’re muscles and since they are dead, they don’t have the capability as when they were alive for they’re muscles and such to heal and get stronger. Also, the bodies you speak of are often buried 6 feet under. How they came to life that far under ground would be a great discussion, but how will they get out. As soon as they’ve “awaken” they don’t have the brain capacity to open a coffin, all they can do is scratch they’re way out and even then they wouldn’t be strong enough. They’d just deteriorate more. But I agree with your theory of zombies freezing solid. (lol, corpsicle)

    King of Zombies, when a person dies they’re blood does pool and your point about the blood pooling in the undead is only true to a freshly dead corpse. Unless some how the freshly dead bled a lot from they’re attack before they turned, the pooling blood point works. Unfortunately it would work for those who had been a zombie for a long time. The blood would dry up, or if they were dead before they became a zombie; usually in the preparation after a person dies, the embalmer removes all the blood from the body and sometimes organs.

    • [quote] all they can do is scratch they’re way out [/quote]
      [quote] when a person dies they’re blood does pool [/quote]

      “they’re” = “they are”
      “their” is the possessive form you’re looking for.

  15. One could find out by observing if cold weather would at least slow zombies down if not incapacitate them. That could come in really handy depending on if they are fast or slow zombies. They also tend to congregate where the food is. An icy tundra is not the ideal place to find a good supply of people meat.

  16. I think the mummification process will play a large role in the overall decomposition of the zombie as well. We know from history that under ideal conditions a human corpse can remain intact, and in some cases even retain a large portion of soft tissue, skin, etc (think of the bog mummies, for instance). Assuming some unknown agent is arresting or slowing decay, probably the same agent that revived the corpse in the first place, and we have a long list of potential unknown chemical reactions that could occur. Something -has- to be affecting the normal rate of decay or zombies would putrefy into liquid within a month in most climates.

    It’s important to keep an open mind about these things, rather than simply assume zombies will freeze in inclement weather because popular fiction asserts that they will. With zombies, you’re always safer leaving the door of possibility open and preparing for the worst.

  17. Why would zombies have flowing blood in the first place? If their hearts aren’t beating, then blood cannot flow. If anything, it might pool due to gravity (similar to livor mortis). One might argue, what if their hearts are beating? Don’t zombies not breath? Moving blood throughout the body is near useless if you aren’t transporting oxygen to muscles for movement.

    Just some thoughts. Cool idea.

    – King of the Zombies

  18. I’ve been thinking more and more about this very subject. I think it’s just too trite and possibly naive to think that the undead will freeze solid once the temperature hits 32º. We have to accept that whatever agent makes them rise from the dead and arrests decay and powers their movements might also provide a certain amount of “anti-freeze” potential in their reanimated tissues. If zombies can move, something has to be providing the muscle tissue with the energy to contract to create movement. If the muscle tissue is capable of contracting then something is preventing it from turning into black rot like a normal corpse’s tissues would.

    Horrifically, there’s a very real possibility that cold won’t do much of anything to zombies until it drops down to a level where it really will freeze them solid. We can die of hypothermia anytime our core body temp drops below 98º, but the zombies won’t.

    • The decomposition rate of a zombie is just slowed. Over a period of time, ten or even twenty years from its rise, the zombie will simply wear itself away, harsh weathers will speed that along nicely.

    • In the walking dead we do see that there is decay. Remember the hose episode on the firetruck? There was also a more recent episode where some survived a fire and were mostly just bone..

  19. this is sounding like the l4d intro already there blood may not freeze but there tissues would

  20. if an infected person can produce a glycoprotein like substance to keep the blood from freezing then yeah, we’re all royally boned all year round, but the human body dosnt produce anything like that. that being said, how would the infected obtain the ability to produce glycoprotein without undergoing thousands, maybe millions of years of evolution?

    that being said, can zombies evolve?

    • well if it were simply bacteria it is just a matter of a few million generations of bacteria. What I am saying is that you could engineer a bacteria to produce a glycoprotein like substance.

    • The human body does create glycoprotein, just not in the blood.
      If the virus could take DNA from the cells which use glycoproteins and put them in the blood, then it would do the same job as in the fish.

      • then wouldint the blood flow have to seep into a part of the body that has the protein and then flow back to the blood supply bringin its newly picked up bacteria with it, it sounds possible cause from their contact with each other blood cell,they contract and help replicate it,but is there any proof of white blood cells in the living dead,if so that could pose a problom

    • the virus itself that reanimated the corpse could have something like the glycoprotein in it. or just some for some reason the virus needed some sort of electrical outburst to get started wich means it would be a man made virus that electrical jolt might jumpstart a rapid multiplication process of some sort of sub bacteria inside the virus

      • i heard that shortly after death there is still electricity in the body. in leaving the body the electricity makes it move somewhat. do you think that could give he virus the push it needs?

    • It depends if they’re undead or virus-infected human.
      The undead can’t reproduce so can’t undergo evolution.
      Virus infected zombie-like people on the other hand.. might be able to reproduce and this glycoprotein could appear in just one generation, evolution is supposed to happen through mutations which occur suddenly.

      • Actually, it’s more likely the undead zombies would be able to harness the glycoprotein because in theory they are cold blooded. This process only works in cold blooded animals. So infected “living” zombies who are warm blooded would certainly freeze to death. No doubt about it.

    • Zombies aren’t cold blooded animals, they are dead warm blooded animals. Much as they cannot develop powers that their warm bodies did not possess (super strength, etc) they would not develop the ability to generate glycoproteins in their blood.

      • The increased strength of a zombie is possible if the brain is no longer resrticting energy supply to the muscles, that would normally be reserved for homiostasis.

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