Winter is coming, but it won’t stop the undead! Freezing weather or sub-arctic areas may offer survivors a respite from zombie attacks; referred to as “White Zones” in Max Brooks’ popular novel World War Z. But frozen zombies are still a potential danger; simply biding their time in the darkness, and laying in wait… much like the undead wood frogs of Alaska.
This tiny amphibian can remain frozen solid for nearly seven months, due in large part to a natural “antifreeze” found in their blood. While most animals simply return to warmer climates after a harsh winter; Rana sylvatica, also known as the wood frog, rises up from the frigid ground and twitches back to life. In Alaska, this horrifying scene is particularly dramatic.
April showers usually bring May flowers, but in Alaska, spring’s rainy days will cause a different kind of life to emerge from the earth: Zombies. But these undead are more interested in mosquitos than human body parts. For the past seven months, Alaska wood frogs have been buried in mud and leaf litter, void of all appearance of life. But when temperatures consistently stay above freezing, these zombies are ready to emerge from their frozen tombs.
Kenneth Storey, a professor of biochemistry at Carleton University, has studied the molecular mechanics that allow wood frogs to repeatedly freeze and thaw. His hope is to eventually aid human organ transplants. Although, the significance for zombie research is already obvious.
Perhaps the same nucleating proteins and glucose production that help preserve the cells of these frogs could explain the zombie virus in some way. Can we actually alter the biology of the undead; allowing them to freeze to death in the cold sub-arctic “White Zones” of a post-apocalyptic world? Obviously, scientists still have a lot to learn about the wood frog.
But if you would like to learn more about the zombie frogs of Alaska for yourself, please read this article by Erin Kirkland online at AKontheGO. You can also refer to this webpage hosted by the Laboratory for Ecophysiological Cryobiology which features a ton of great information!