Did you know that turtles could (possibly) save your life?
Scientists have recently been studying western painted turtles, which are known for their amazing ability to freeze solid during the winter and come back to life in the Spring. That’s correct – during the coldest time of the year, this animal’s blood and internal organs are completely solid, and yet, they can recover without any tissue damage once they awake from their “deep slumber.”
Hoping to understand and replicate this power in human beings, scientists at UCLA have paired up with the National Human Genome Research Institute of the US to take a closer look at the turtles’ DNA. With any luck, they may be able to find the key components which can contribute to future innovations in the medical field. Their hopes are that frostbites and hypothermia would no longer cause serious consequences, such as a loss of body appendages. Furthermore, similar developments in medical repair technology can also be used to counter the currently life-threatening heart attacks which are the leading cause of death in several countries around the world. Who could’ve guessed that turtles may be the key in a major medical advance?
One last fact: these turtles can also hold their breath for up to four months during hibernation. If humans could do that, we would consume a way smaller amount of oxygen and expel only a fraction of the CO2 that we do right now… the possibilities are endless.
To conclude, even extremely slow-moving and (literally) cold-blooded animals can make a great difference in our lives, so don’t forget to appreciate Mother Nature and pitch in a hand in preserving our diverse wildlife!
About this contributor: An idoyncratic gr10 student who loves playing the piano, flute and violin and enjoys reading historical fiction and Edgar Allan Poe. She completes jigsaw puzzles in her spare time and aspires to learn Latin as well as publish a children's book in the near future.