Goldfish have always been swimming beneath thick layers of ice that cover entire lakes in northern Europe. Until recently, their high survival chances were a mystery for the scientific world. However, a team of researchers have just discovered their secret weapon to fight the negative effects of freezing winters, and it’s all about alcohol.
Goldfish Have a Second Set of Proteins that Produce Alcohol instead of Harmful Lactic Acid during Freezing Winters
Scientists were aware of the inexplicably high levels of survival chances that goldfish are capable of for decades. However, new research suggests that this odd situation has nothing to do with chance. The glowing fish are actually activating an internal process that helps them survive months without oxygen.
The groundbreaking study appeared in publication Scientific Reports. Most animals feature a set of proteins that transport carbs towards the mitochondria. This acts as a battery that provides cells with energy. However, the lack of oxygen impels carbohydrates to produce lactic acid. Goldfish can die of this substance in a matter of minutes.
However, they present a second internal system that prevents such a fatal situation to occur. This unique ability comes from the second set of proteins. This system becomes active whenever the fish lacks oxygen. Its main function is to turn the lactic acid that harms the body into alcohol. The result is then expelled out of the body through the gills.
This Unique Capacity Made Goldfish the Only Aquatic Creature to Swim in Harsh Conditions
Therefore, whenever the thick layer of ice of freezing winters seals the lake and prevents it from getting in more oxygen, goldfish activate their secondary system. This way, instead of producing damaging lactic acid, they get ethanol. The longer they live in these conditions, the higher the alcohol levels are in the fish. Dr. Berenbrink stated that their dosage might attain the one that northern European countries and Scotland recognize as the drink-drive limit.
Scientists can learn a lot from this evolutionary development. Goldfish came to feature this second set of protein to continue to function in their original version. As a consequence, they are the only underwater creatures that can explore empty lands in harsh conditions. Therefore, they meet no competition whatsoever, and they thrive as a species.
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