Frozen Frogs that Thaw Out and Live

Frozen Frogs that Thaw Out and Live

Among the most incredible designs in the natural world is how God equipped various animals to survive winter. Some of the methods are relatively obvious. Burrowing deep under the frost line is one method. We have noted in the past the complex way bears give birth to young and retain urine while hibernating. Wood frogs are unique because they don’t burrow underground for protection from the cold. Instead, they become frozen frogs during the cold months.

Wood frogs are amphibians, meaning they are cold-blooded because they can’t generate any body heat. In winter, the water freezes in the frog’s cells but doesn’t expand and rupture them. They have a natural antifreeze preventing the cells from bursting when they freeze.

When spring arrives, the water inside the frog melts, and the frog awakens. Males immediately begin making a sound like a quacking duck, attracting females. Next, the male will grasp the female with his forelimbs wrapping around her torso. He squeezes until she releases her eggs into the water, where he fertilizes them. The males have a thumb that swells during the breeding season, enabling them to grasp the females.

Scientists are trying to understand how the wood frog’s cells can freeze without rupturing, causing death. Medical science wants to know how to freeze living tissue without damaging it for organ transplants. Many questions are still unanswered in the freezing and recovery of the wood frog. Why don’t all amphibians have this capability, and why is it limited to these creatures?

God has designed special equipment and chemicals to sustain life in all kinds of environments. So when we look at incredible designs, such as frozen frogs, we can know there is a God who created these unusual life forms. (Romans 1:20).

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: National Geographic October 2022, page 28.