Watch snow flies amputate their own legs to avoid freezing to death

Wednesday, June 7, 2023 - 16:03 in Earth & Climate

Snow flies patrolling the frozen mountains of North America in search of mates have developed a unique adaptation to their hostile environment. When temperatures plummet below 7°C and ice crystals begin to form in their legs, the insects shed these appendages to prevent the ice from fatally spreading to the rest of their body. To make the discovery, researchers placed four species of snow fly ( Chionea ) on a cold plate and slowly lowered the temperature. When the insects’ legs froze to the plate (shown in the infrared), they snapped their limbs at the joint of the femur and trochanter—essentially, at the hip, the team reports on the preprint server bioRxiv. ...

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