Thursday, October 4, 2012

Gym Frog


Without glasses, I couldn't make out if what I was seeing slowly leap past was a frog or a toad.  I was at the gym, on an elliptical, and in the middle of an HIIT cycle.  The desire to finish the cycle overruled the temptation to leap off the machine to capture and rescue the little leaper from what would eventually be certain death by  foot or dehydration.  In my mind I had the leaper classified as either a common toad or a wood frog, but because wood frogs are relatively uncommon here, I ruled out the possibility of a wood frog classification.  I finished my HIIT cycle and prepared myself to rescue the toad.

I was favorably surprised and happy to find that it was indeed a wood frog that had decided to visit me at the gym.  I dropped to the floor and snapped a half dozen pictures from different angles.  In my excitement and with some concern for the scene I was making, I didn't take enough pictures with the gym in the background.  A wood frog with the unnatural background of florescent lighting, treadmills, ellpiticals, cardio monkeys, and gym rats would have been meaningful. 

Wood frogs are fascinating for their ability to survive with all of their cells crystallized into ice.  Where most amphibians spend their winters hibernating below the frost line buried in mud beneath ponds and lakes, wood frogs actually hibernate within the frost line. In turn, their respiratory systems will often come to a complete halt, freezing over completely.  Wood frogs are unique among North American vertebrates for this ability to survive being frozen.  Garter snakes have a similar ability to survive below freezing temperatures, but their success is attributed to blood properties that mimic anti-freeze and so retard the advancement of ice.  

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