Frogs turned black in Chernobyl

(ORDO NEWS) — In April 1986, one of the most terrible disasters of our time occurred – an explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, located in the city of Pripyat.

As a result of this accident, a huge amount of radioactive substances was released into the environment.

More than 4,000 people died from the explosion – a small part of them died directly from the explosion, and the rest from radiation exposure.

36 years have passed since this catastrophe, and Pripyat has turned into a nature reserve, which is home to a huge number of rare animals.

Since radiation can damage genetic material, some living organisms have changed markedly. For example, once green frogs are now black. How could this happen and is such a coloring harmful to their health?

Unusual frogs were found in 2016 – they are eastern tree frogs (Hyla orientalis). These creatures, up to 5.3 centimeters in size, usually have a bright, green color.

As a habitat, they choose well-lit areas of forests, as well as the banks of water bodies.

During the daytime, they prefer to sit on plants, and at night they sink to the ground. The diet of eastern tree frogs consists of insects. In general, they are small, harmless creatures.

After the discovery of black frogs, scientists for several years tried to find other individuals both on the territory of Pripyat and beyond.

During this time, they managed to study about 200 eastern tree frogs found in 12 different ponds.

As it turned out, individuals in the area of ​​the catastrophe actually have a darker body shade than frogs from other territories.

Scientists believe that black tree frogs existed before, but after the accident, they began to dominate the green individuals.

The dark coloring of the body is caused by melanin, a pigment that is present in almost all organisms and is responsible for the shade of the skin, hair, eyes, and so on.

In addition to this, it plays a big role in reducing the negative effects of ultraviolet radiation.

Few people know about this, but the protective properties of melanin also apply to ionizing radiation – this, at least, has been proven using mushrooms as an example.

According to scientists, the pigment is able to absorb and scatter part of the radiation. It can also restore damaged cells to some extent.

The protective properties of melanin are not 100% effective, but its high concentration clearly increases the chances of survival.

If this is true, after the Chernobyl accident, a small evolution could have occurred in nature.

After environmental pollution, black frogs could gain a significant advantage over green frogs in terms of the ability to survive in difficult conditions.

As a result of this, with each generation of eastern tree frogs, individuals of a dark color could become more.

According to scientists, over the past thirty years, about the tenth generation of frogs has already appeared.

So, now scientists have another proof that melanin is able to protect organisms from the effects of radiation.

Thanks to this knowledge, it will be possible to develop new ways to dispose of nuclear waste and protect people from ionizing radiation.

It is possible that scientists will be able to create an ideal technology that will allow you to safely explore space and colonize new planets – we recall that at the moment astronauts are most threatened by cosmic radiation.

For example, scientists believe that radiation on Mars can severely damage the human brain.

During the experiment with laboratory rats, it was found that even a low dose of radiation can cause serious impairments in the ability to learn and remember information.

In addition to this, the animals began to become more anxious, but scientists have not yet studied the nature of this phenomenon.

But harm to the brain is not all – the main thing is that radiation strongly affects genes and can cause a variety of mutations and radiation sickness.

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