Hosted by Sandra Tsing Loh, The Loh Down on Science is a fun way to get your daily dose of science plus a dash of humor in less than two minutes.
Hosted by Sandra Tsing Loh
Airs Weekdays 2:43 and 3:43 a.m.

Frozen Fish Sticks




Peter Leopold

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 Jump on in – the subzero Arctic water is fine!

 

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science and a chilling case.

 

What’s it like to live in the coldest location on the planet? Polar ice caps, bitter snow storms, and below freezing temperatures. Brrrr! But the Arctic is a dream destination for one fish -- the Arctic Cod.

 

How do they survive such bone-chilling temps? Anti-freeze! That is, anti-freeze proteins in their blood! But where do these proteins come from?

 

Ask evolutionary biologist Christina Cheng from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Her team has solved this fishy riddle. But it led to an unexpected twist.

 

The anti-freeze gene comes from a piece of DNA that was used for, well…nothing!

 

Random mutation of this seemingly unimportant genetic leftover allowed a brand-new gene to emerge. Non-freezing fish used this to their advantage in the glacial waters, and natural selection did the rest. No more frozen fish-sickles!

 

A true rags-to-riches story! Welcome to the Polar Bear Club, Arctic Cod!