As Winter Storm Grayson, the “bomb cyclone,” threatens to intensify the icy cold that already has the entire American Northeast in its grip, you would think that everyone would have figured out by now that they should just stay the hell indoors. But one intrepid Reddit user, posting to the r/WTF thread on Tuesday, would not let winter impede their plans. The gnarly photo they uploaded suggests they braved the frigid Northeast conditions long enough to hunt some local deer — and snap a photo of the gnarly phenomenon spotted on one wounded animal’s fur.
The caption of the viral photo reads: “So cold in the northeast that the blood of a deer froze into a bloodcicle.” That isn’t a scientific term by any stretch, but it’s a damn good word for describing the jagged red shard in this image, literally an icicle of frozen deer blood.
In the Reddit thread, there’s plenty of speculation about how this bloodsicle might have formed, with some guessing that the blood might have squirted upward or outward from the deer’s body and then frozen instantly in mid-air. But this seems unlikely, even given the extremely cold temperatures the Northeast has seen lately (Watertown, New York, recently dipped to -32 degrees Celsius).
Under normal conditions, liquid doesn’t usually freeze instantly unless it’s supercooled beforehand — that is, cooled to a temperature lower than its freezing point without turning it into a solid. When a liquid is supercooled, it could theoretically turn into a solid instantly — as soon as an “impurity” is introduced to it. Even at temperatures below water’s freezing point, ice crystals can’t form without a nucleus or seed around which they can grow around. So when, say, a bottle of completely pure, still water is lowered to a temperature below its freezing point, it may remain liquid until a disturbance introduces a nucleus — at which point it will instantly turn into solid ice.
This is not, however, likely to happen with deer blood, which is definitely not supercooled when it’s inside a deer’s body (internal deer temperature is estimated to be somewhere between 38.2 and 40.1 degrees Celsius). In general, blood is thought to behave like any saline solution of similar concentration, freezing solid when it reaches a temperature between -2 and -3 degrees Celsius.
My best guess would be that the deer was shot standing and fell on this side, allowing the blood to drain out into the snow. The initially warm blood melted the snow into this cavernous shape, then when the blood froze it made a caste of the shape. The hunter then flipped the deer over, said “Wow look at this shit!” and took a picture.
This is a much more likely explanation, as it allows for some time for the blood to dip to a temperature of -2 to -3 degrees Celsius, a process that would have been sped up by the cold snow surrounding it. While we may never know exactly what events led to the formation of this bloodsicle, what remains the biggest mystery is what led the person who took this photo to venture into such blood-chilling temperatures in the first place.
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