Chernobyl: Evolution On Steroids

Nineteen years after the radioactive explosion in Chernobyl, the ecosystem has returned, and with greater biodiversity than before.
August 11, 2005, 9am PDT | Chris Steins | @urbaninsight
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Though the region won't be safe for human habitation for hundreds of thousands of years, animals and plants there appear to be thriving. It's "evolution on steroids," said one excited ecologist, "a fantastic experiment."

"How has this happened, given that radiation levels are still too high for humans to return safely? Morris thinks that many of the organisms mutated by the fallout have died, leaving behind those that have not suffered problems with growth and reproduction. "It's evolution on steroids. There are a lot of deleterious mutations in species but these seem to be very quickly weeded out," Morris explains. Many young fish living in the reactor's cooling ponds are deformed, but adults tend to be healthy, implying that those harmed by radiation die young."

Thanks to Chris Steins

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Published on Tuesday, August 9, 2005 in Nature
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