Re: CRYO: Nature's little cryonauts

Michael S. Lorrey (
Wed, 04 Aug 1999 11:36:31 -0400

Aaron Davidson wrote:
> Hello everyone. I just thought I'd write down a little childhood memory to
> share with the list, as those of you who are interested in cryonic
> suspension may find it amuzing.
> As a young boy, I grew up in the North West Territories of Canada, in a
> small town call Inuvik. Inuvik strangely would give me my first introuction
> to the idea of cryonic suspension. I lived there for five years, and each
> spring the same amazing event happened in our school yard. As the warm
> winds started to move in to town, and the snow and ice began to thaw, large
> chunks of hard ice would start sliding off of the roof of the school. What
> my friends and I soon discovered to our delight were flies encased in the
> ice. They had spent the entire 9 months of the winter frozen solid in ice
> which formed on the aluminum roofing of the school. At recess we would chip
> out dozens of ice chunks holding these flies, and sneak them back into the
> classroom with us. Then we would hide them in the garbage pail and about an
> hour into the class the ice would have thawed and amazingly, the flies
> would thaw as well and soon there would be dozens of house flies buzzing
> around annoying the teacher. It was always amuzing to have flies buzzing
> about when the land was still covered in snow and the temperature outside
> was just above freezing!
> Does anyone know how common such types of hibernation are in the animal
> kingdom? I've heard of frogs and such that hibernate in the ground, but
> they must still remain warm enough that they don't freeze solid. These
> little house flies (at least they looked like ordinary house flies) were
> frozen solid in the ice. There can't have been any liquid in them during
> the winters. But they managed to thaw out and fly around as soon as the ice
> melted off of them.

I've seen the same thing up here in frigid New Hampshire, and I've also seen the effect from flies that hybernate in the cracks and crevices of wood that has been cut and split. As a child when we brought the wood in the house for burning, the flies would warm up and, thinking it was spring, wake up and come out for a buz. Finding the actual flies while under hybernation was interesting. They would be totally stiff, and experimented with pulling appendages off to see if it affected the fly's ability to wake up.

Recently though, I met a girl who is a medical research student, and is doing a lot of experiments with flies. She claims that no flies can withstand freezing. We actually got into a heated argument about it. She claims that the flies are not actually frozen, that their metabolic activity maintains a pocket of warmth where they are at.

Mike Lorrey