Mothra is real: Mutant butterflies found in Japan after nuclear accident
Meltdown at Fukushima plant last year has led to startling mutations
In the movies, radioactivity made an ordinary butterfly into a gigantic moth - dubbed "Mothra." The popular Japanese monster movie series had the giant moth terrorizing Tokyo, serenaded by the twin princesses The Peanuts. Now - following the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster after the tsunami and earthquake in March of last year, mutant butterflies in the area have taken root . in a most unwanted example of life imitating art.
Butterflies captured six months after the release of radiation had more than twice as many abnormalities as insects plucked two months following the release.
Researchers traced radiation released from the nuclear power plant, such as infertility, deformed wings, dented eyes, aberrant spot patterns, malformed antennas and legs as well as the inability to climb out of their cocoons. The butterflies from the sites with the most radiation in the environment have the most physical abnormalities.
"Insects have been considered to be highly resistant to radiation, but this butterfly was not," Otaki says.
The Japanese earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, cut off power to the Fukushima Daiichi plant, leading to meltdowns that released radionuclides, which caused the deformities and genetic defects. Butterflies captured six months after the release had more than twice as many abnormalities as insects plucked two months following the release.
"One very important implication of this study is that it demonstrates that harmful mutations can be passed from one generation to the next, and that these might actually accumulate and increase over time, leading to larger effects with each generation," Timothy Mousseau, a professor of biology at the University of South Carolina says. Mousseau has studied the impacts of radiation from Fukushima and from the 1986 Chernobyl explosion in Ukraine.
"It is quite concerning to see accumulated effects occurring over relatively short time periods, less than a year, in Fukushima butterflies."
At the time of the disaster in March 2011, pale grass blue butterflies or Zizeeria maha) were overwintering as larvae. As soon as two months later, adult butterflies were located from 10 locations and scientists observed changes in the butterflies' eyes, wing shapes and color patterns.
Since the butterflies live in the same places a human beings, such as gardens and public parks, the insects are good environmental indicators, sensitive to environmental changes, said Otaki.
It is likely that the first generation of butterflies suffered both physical damage from radiation sickness and genetic damage from the massive exposure to radioactive isotopes after the disaster. This generation passed on their genetic mutations to their offspring, who then acquired their own genetic defects from eating radioactive leaves and from exposure to low levels of radiation remaining in the environment.
"This study adds to the growing evidence that low-dose radiation can lead to significant increases in mutations and deformities in wild animal populations, Mousseau says.
© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM
Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2014
Respect for Women: That all cultures may respect the rights and dignity of women.
Vocations: That many young people may accept the Lordís invitation to consecrate their lives to proclaiming the Gospel.
Rate This Article
Leave a Comment
More Green News
- Fearsome beast once stalked Europe: New dinosaur identified
- Resident Evil: Extinction. 30,000-year-old giant virus revived from frozen Siberian tundra
- The world's getting hotter - in spite of reductions in global warming
- BAD PARENTING: Ants use their newborns as rafts in flood situations
- Powered by Google. Online monitoring system tracks global deforestation
- TOLD YOU SO: Human behavior now causing greatest mass extinction ever, and it's finally hitting you in the wallet
- Cereal giant Kellogg pledges only to use ethically supplied palm oil
- World's largest solar farm in Mojave Desert frying birds which flies over
- Source of Amazon River may be 57 miles longer than previously believed
- Fr. Paul Schenck: Finding Living Faith on Catechetical Sunday
- The Movie Yellow: Incest as 'Normal' and Cassavates's Slides Into the World of Woes
- The Chicago School Teachers Strike Reveals the Need For School Choice
- The Sexual Barbarians and the Dissolution of Culture
- The Happy Priest Challenges Us to Ask: Who is Jesus to Me?
- Michael Coren on Canadian Public Schools: Teachers, leave those kids alone
- We Cannot Ignore Our Consciences: Cardinal Dolan On Religious Liberty
- In the Face of Danger, Successor of Peter Travels to Lebanon as a Messenger of Peace
- Reflections on the Dignity and Vocation of Women: Who or What?