A white rabbit purported to have been born without ears near Japan’s Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant has given rise to fears that the plant’s meltdown will lead to genetic mutation on a mass scale, reports AOL.com
. A video of the creature was posted on YouTube on May 21.
Experts told AOL that the apparent deformity might not have been caused by radiation leakage.
"Yes, radiation can cause mutations that can be occasionally expressed as obvious birth defects, such as shown in the video," said Prof. F. Ward Whicker of Colorado State University’s Department of Environmental and Radiological Health Sciences. "However, to say this is the result of contamination from the Fukushima accident is a stretch, because natural radiation, as well as many other chemical substances in the environment and other factors, can also be mutagenic."
Richard Rhodes, author of the definitive history of nuclear weapons, “The Making of the Atomic Bomb,” said it “is highly unlikely” that radiation caused the mutation.
"In the years after World War II, there was a major American commission that looked into the health ramifications of the atomic bombings, and it found no genetic changes in the populations of Hiroshima or Nagasaki," said Rhodes. "There were no birth defects attributed to the bombing, and no genetic consequences."
New York City veterinarian and bunny expert Mary Cotter may have the answer in the form of a phenomenon called over-grooming, in which a mother rabbit aggressively grooms a baby to the point that it appears earless.
So far there have been no reports of giant lizards wandering ashore.
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