The body of Cryptopygus antarcticus functions in extreme cold via anti-freeze compounds.

Onychiurus arcticus (from the Arctic) uses protective dehydration to survive harsh Arctic winters. This means that water is lost from the body across a diffusion gradient between the animals’ super-cooled body fluids and ice in the surroundings. ‘During this process the body loses all its water and you end up with a normal looking head, and a body which looks like a crumpled up crisp packet when it is fully dehydrated. But add a drop of water and it all goes back to normal!’ explains Dr Clark [Dr. Melody Clark, from the British Antarctic Survey]. Scientists examined the different stages of this process to see which genes were activated.

Cryptopygus antarcticus lives in the Antarctic and uses a different mechanism to survive cold temperatures. These creatures accumulate anti-freeze compounds which lower the temperature at which their bodies freeze, meaning they can withstand temperatures as low as minus 30°C. Within this population there is a clear divide into less- and more-cold hardened animals, which has been a puzzle to researchers. However, by looking for differences in gene expression levels between the two populations, scientists think that there could be a link to moulting (this is the process by which arthropods shed their exoskeleton).” (Dugan 2007)

Dugan G. 2007 April 2. Natural anti-freeze — how arthropods survive the cold. <>. Accessed 2007 April 2.

Last Updated August 18, 2016