RaPid evolution experienced by the dogs of chernobyl
For decades, scientists have studied animals living in or near the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant to see how increased levels of radiation affect their health, growth, and evolution.
A new study analyzed the DNA of 302 feral dogs living near the power plant, compared the animals to others living 10 miles away, and found remarkable differences.
While the study doesn’t prove that radiation is the cause of these differences, the data provides an important first step in analyzing these irradiated populations, and understanding how they compare to dogs living elsewhere.
More extensive research is needed to properly determine whether or not the genetic differences that the researchers noticed in the Chernobyl dogs is caused by radiation or other factors. Uncovering what is responsible for these changes will give us a better idea of what to expect from prolonged radiation exposure in animals.
The most exciting thing here is that an area that should be considered a wasteland has continued to thrive, despite the heavy blanket of radiation that still covers it 40 years after the terrible catastrophe that left the area around Chernobyl in decay.