It was in late April of 1986 that the catastrophic Chernobyl nuclear accident occurred. After a few oversights by employees at the power plant at that time, there was an incident with Rector 4—an explosion—during an experiment, and the cataclysmic event that occurred would change that landscape forever.
It is still argued to this day how many lost their lives, but the number ranges from 31 to as many as a possible 50. Over 100,000 people were made to evacuate the area of Pripyat and neighboring towns, and they were to leave everything they owned, which of course included their animals.
To this day the site at Chernobyl remains radioactive and of course tourism is limited big time. Of course many still get in for photos, and a very special breed also makes it past all the restriction…dogs.
As it turns out, they not only haunt the location, but they have found a way to do quite well for themselves overall, as the Albuquerque Journal has reported.
But what can these dogs teach us about survival?
Scientists now hope that the study of these brave dogs can teach them a thing or two about survival in such conditions. Elaine Ostrander, a geneticist at the National Human Genome Research Institute, had this to say about the study:
"“We’ve had this golden opportunity…How do you survive in a hostile environment like this for 15 generations?”via Albuquerque Journal (link above)"
Tim Mousseau, who is a co-author of the study, and is a professor of biological sciences at the University of South Carolina, stated that in so studying the dogs in question, the insight into these dogs can shine a possible light as to how mammals overall react under such conditions…essentially being subject to a radioactive environment.
What’s interesting to see is that they haven’t lost their ability to interact with humans, as was noted in the aforementioned piece as well.
The sad discovery made about these animals is that they were very likely the puppies and puppies of puppies of the aforementioned animals that were sadly left behind during the panic that broke out back in 1986, but what’s more, they can actually identify the lines of genealogy in the dogs and pinpoint their ancestors.
By doing this, they can see the effects of living in the radioactive environment and what effect that may have had on DNA over time. Ostrander expanded on this thought:
"“That was a huge milestone for us…And what’s surprising is we can even identify families…We can compare them and we can say: OK, what’s different, what’s changed, what’s mutated, what’s evolved, what helps you, what hurts you at the DNA level?”via Albuquerque Journal"
The study will indeed be a huge breakthrough, especially in terms of seeing exactly where radioactive exposure can take large mammals, and that opens a lot of doors in terms of scientific research and in studying radioactive effects, which are sadly a huge concern right now with the political climate in Russia and the Ukraine.
There’s tons of great photos online that show these amazing pups padding through the abandoned streets. A sight to see for sure.