Is Magnesium the Sleeping Potion That Enables Sandhoppers to Survive Cold Winters?

Large sandhopper (Talitrus saltator)

Magnesium compounds are a common ingredient of many remedies designed to help people wind down and escape the stresses of modern life. However, a new study has shown it is not only humans that are using forms of the chemical as a way to help them survive challenging conditions. In tests conducted on beaches in Cornwall, UK, and in the laboratory at the University of Plymouth, scientists confirmed the findings of previous studies which showed large sandhoppers (Talitrus saltator) increase the levels of magnesium ions in their bodies as temperatures fall. This slows them down so they are less active than they would be during the warmer months. However, the new study has shown for the first time that when they want to enter a period of deep sleep the creatures have the means through which to increase their magnesium levels even further – in some instances more than doubling them.

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