Tuesday, April 4, 2023

In Weird Science News, The Feral Dogs Near Chernobyl Might Be Evolving Faster Than Normal

In news that sounds straight out of a sci-fi novel/movie, the feral dogs living around Chernobyl seem to be evolving faster. Folks may remember or have learned in school that in 1986 a nuclear reactor in the Soviet Union-controlled city of Chernobyl melted down. It was bad and is among the biggest nuclear accidents in history (the most recent being Fukushima in 2011).

Now a part of Northern Ukraine (which is seeing plenty of conflict and making studies complicated, to say the least), scientists have spent decades studying the region and how it impacted the remaining wildlife after humans fled. A number of pets were abandoned and now a number of generations of pups have occurred and they are remarkably different than animals a mere 10 miles away from the radiated location. Other animals are different too, like frogs that have different pigmentations. Is this a case of animals just doing the usual evolution you'd see in a unique area or is the evolution being accelerated as well by the fact there is a whole lot of nuclear residue around? Scientists aren't sure, but even saying there may be some radiation-accelerated/impacted evolution sounds like a sci-fi concept.

I'm not saying we'll be getting Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles anytime soon, but it is a mixture of astounding, fascinating, and worrying to think how this man-made disaster is morphing nature in ways we barely can comprehend. It has only been nearly 40 years and we are noting stuff. I can only imagine what we'll see in a century at places such as Chernobyl compared to the rest of the Planet.

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