Scientists have discovered that radioactive wild boars have been mating with domestic pigs in Fukushima, resulting in a new hybrid species.
It’s understood that this new hybrid isn’t the result of radioactivity at the nuclear wasteland site, but due to radioactive boars roaming the area and breeding with pigs that have escaped from farms.
The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster of 2011, caused primarily by the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, was the most serious nuclear accident since the Chernobyl disaster of 1986, and radiation levels at the site are still much higher than globally recommended limits.
As per Greenpeace, those living in this area would receive their annual maximum dose of radioactivity within the space of just a few days.
Researchers looking at the effects of the disaster on local animals found that radiation had no harmful effects on their genetics. However, the population of wild boars in the area has boomed, with the animals left to roam freely and flourish in the absence of humans.
In a study led by Fukushima University researcher Donovan Anderson, a team of scientists looked at DNA samples taken from the muscles of 243 wild boars, pigs and boar-pig hybrids, obtained from slaughterhouses in the area.
Their findings, published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, revealed that 31 wild boar, or 16% of wild boar within the evacuated zone, were in fact boar-pig hybrids.
Anderson and colleagues have now presented ‘evidence of successful hybridisation between pigs and native wild boar in this area’, and recommend that ‘future studies assess the fitness of these hybrids and better characterise their ecological niche.’
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