Today's reminder that nuclear accidents stay with us much, much longer than we might care to remember them: Butterflies in the vicinity of the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear reactor in Japan are mutating
. A study published online last week in the journal Science Reports
found that pale blue grass butterflies
are common in much of Asia, but those born near the site of the meltdown are coming into the world with severe physical deformities. Mutations have been found in 12% of the specimens
examined by researchers at the University of the Ryukyus in nearby Okinawa.
While some of the mutations, like unusual spotting patterns on wings, are mostly innocuous, others are more severe, ranging from forked antennae, to twisted legs, to bent and useless wings
. Some are suffering from mutations that leave them unable to even leave their cocoons