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Genetic Linkage

The Dogs of Chernobyl Reveal the Genomic Aftermath of a Human-Made Environmental Disaster

In the original Planet of the Apes, the Forbidden Zone is a future radiation-devastated landscape from which hardy new mutants arise, shifting the evolutionary course of humanity.


The "nuclear exclusion zone" sounds similar, but is real, referring to the 3,004-square-kilometer (about 1,160-square-mile) environs of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant that exploded on April 26, 1986, at 1:23:58 am. The Chernobyl Dog Research Initiative has published their analysis of genetic changes among the dogs who live today in what researchers call the aftermath of "an ecological catastrophe of massive proportions." Gabriella Spatola and Elaine Ostrander of the National Human Genome Research Institute and colleagues report their findings in Science Advances.


Soon after the explosion, as humans fled, workers remained to clean up and to cull the canine population. But some dogs survived, and the workers as well as tourists have cared for them since. Yes, Chernobyl was and remains a tourist destination, by jeep or jet.


An Unnatural Experiment


To continue reading, go to DNA Science, where this post first appeared.

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