Japanese Scientists Find Mutant Butterflies Near Fukushima Japanese Scientists Find Mutant Butterflies Near Fukushima
Environment

Japanese Scientists Find Mutant Butterflies Near Fukushima

by Andrew Price

August 17, 2012

A massive release of radioactive material is never good, but so far it's been hard to evaluate the precise effects of the collapse of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant on the surrounding environment. But this new study, published in Scientific Reports, is concerning. Japanese scientists have looked at several generations of pale grass blue butterfly populations in the affected area and have found physical mutations and genetic damage. In short: mutant butterflies.

From Yale e360:

...butterflies collected from the Fukushima area about two months after the 2011 accident were more likely to have leg, antennae, and wing shape mutations than those found elsewhere [and] butterflies found in areas with higher levels of radiation developed much smaller wings and eye irregularities. After breeding these butterflies in a laboratory, researchers found the next generation had numerous abnormalities not seen in the previous generation, including malformed antennae. And adult butterflies collected near Fukushima six months after the initial tests were more than twice as likely to have mutations than those found soon after the accident.

The authors stop short of speculating what this might mean for other animals (like humans), and I'm not even sure what the worst case scenario is here. Let's call it a cause for concern.

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Japanese Scientists Find Mutant Butterflies Near Fukushima