The Weird Survival Tactics of the Antarctic Icefish

How does one survive the Antarctic cold? Seals develop a thick layer of fat. Penguins combine fat, feathers, and the habit of clinging together in large numbers. People build science stations with heaters. But the Antarctic icefish (Channichthyidae) is cold-blooded and uses some really weird alternative anatomy. It is the only known vertebrate that doesn’t have hemoglobin in its blood! The blood of the icefish is almost clear.

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What the fish’s blood does contain is organic antifreeze. It has unique and specific proteins that lower the freezing point of water, so neither the blood nor the fish’s tissues will develop ice crystals. Inspired by the icefish, a food company developed a yeast that produces these same antifreeze proteins and uses it in ice cream!   

But back to the icefish. Without hemoglobin, how does the fish get oxygen to its tissues? Luckily, Antarctic Ocean water holds more oxygen than warmer water. The fish has no scales, so it absorbs some through it skin. It also has a heart that’s four times the size of those of similar-sized fish. Read more about the strange Antarctic icefish at Atlas Obscura.

(Image credit: Marrabbio2)

Source: neatorama

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