Science: Ant & Automobile

When autumn temperatures fall toward the freezing point, wise motorists put antifreeze in their radiators. Many wise insects do much the same thing, reports Biochemist Fred Smith of the University of Minnesota. What's more, their antifreeze is glycerol (glycerin), a chemical that closely resembles the ethylene glycol that is the basis for many antifreeze brands.

Working with Dr. Peter Dubach, Douglas Pratt and C. M. Stewart, Professor Smith was studying the hibernating larvae of woodboring beetles (Melandrya striata), trying to isolate the enzymes that digest the cellulose on which the insects live. But when he ground up the larvae and analyzed the...

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