After Japanese scientists caught and DNA tested wild boar near Fukushima, Japan, they have discovered there’s a new hybrid species with high levels of radiation running around.
In 2015, a massive tsunami and earthquake triggered the 2011 nuclear power plant crisis at Fukushima. During the unfortunate event, over 160,000 people were displaced from their homes and relocated to a safer place.
Farmers at the time were forced to leave their livestock, including their domestic pigs. These domestic pigs, along with native wild boars, took over abandoned towns and, little did scientists know, also began to crossbreed.
When they were tested for radiation levels, fortunately, they did not find any genetic mutations like extra legs or eyes. However, the new hybrid boar had 300 times higher radiation levels than what is safe.
Japanese scientists knew the wild boar would have radiation in them but they were mostly shocked about finding the domestic pig genes in the DNA.
“Eighteen boar, phenotypically identified as wild boar, had a European domesticated pig haplotype,” scientist said, Yahoo News reported. “Frequencies of this haplotype have remained stable since first detection in 2015. This result infers ongoing genetic pollution in wild boar populations from released domesticated pigs.”
Donovan Anderson, a research scientist involved in the study, was not worried about it though. He believes the domestic pig genes will most likely be diluted out within the next future generations.
“There was a hybridisation event that caused changes in native wild boar genome,” Mr. Anderson said, according to Yahoo News. “The changes are at low frequencies, and diluting with time. Therefore, we may not see any changes to boar as a result of hybrids. The current behavioural changes we see are from the absence of people as boar quickly took over the abandoned areas.”