Business is booming.

Chernobyl is spawning MUTANT frogs: Bizarre black amphibians are spotted near the nuclear plant

Mutant black frogs spawn near the Chernobyl power plant, 36 years after its catastrophic meltdown triggered one of the worst nuclear disasters in history.

Eastern tree frogs are supposed to have light green skin, but researchers working near Chernobyl have found many with darker or black pigmentation.

In 1986, the site in northern Ukraine – then under Soviet rule – witnessed the largest release of radioactive material into the environment in human history.

Now researchers believe that the mutant frogs’ darker skin may have helped them survive in the exclusion zone, which today restricts access to 1,0000 square kilometers around ground zero.

Eastern tree frogs are supposed to have light green skin, but researchers working near Chernobyl have found many with darker or black pigmentation

Eastern tree frogs are supposed to have light green skin, but researchers working near Chernobyl have found many with darker or black pigmentation

In 1986, the site in northern Ukraine - then under Soviet rule - experienced the largest release of radioactive material into the environment in human history

In 1986, the site in northern Ukraine - then under Soviet rule - experienced the largest release of radioactive material into the environment in human history

In 1986, the site in northern Ukraine – then under Soviet rule – experienced the largest release of radioactive material into the environment in human history

Crops grown 30 miles outside Chernobyl are still contaminated with dangerous levels of strontium

Crops grown near Chernobyl are still contaminated, more than three decades after the worst nuclear disaster in history.

Almost half of the grain analyzed by researchers in Ivankiv, about 30 miles from the power plant, showed levels of strontium 90 well above recommended levels.

It was also present at unsafe levels in firewood and wood ash used to fertilize crops.

The Ukrainian government stopped testing goods for strontium 90 in 2013.

A radioactive isotope, it accumulates in teeth, bones and marrow like calcium and can cause several forms of cancer.

Germán Orizaola, a researcher at Spain’s University of Oviedo who co-authored the new study, said: ‘We become aware of these frogs the very first night we worked in Chernobyl.

‘We were looking for this species near the damaged power plant and we discovered many frogs that were just black.

‘We know that melanin is responsible for dark or black coloration in many organisms, including frogs.

‘At the same time, we know that melanin protects against damage caused by different types of radiation, from UV to ionizing radiation – the kind in Chernobyl.’

For their study, Dr. Orizaola and his co-author, Pablo Burraco, more than 200 male frogs from 12 different breeding ponds with different levels of radiation.

They found that frogs inside the exclusion zone were much darker than frogs outside it.

And while there was no correlation between the darkest frogs and the most irradiated locations today, there was a correlation with the worst affected locations from the time of the accident.

In other words, the darker frogs had a better chance of survival when the disaster struck in 1986, making them more numerous today.

Dr. Orizaola said: ‘With this species it is possible to find, under normal circumstances, a small percentage of frogs with unusual colouring.

For their study, Dr.  Orizaola and his co-author, Pablo Burraco, more than 200 male frogs from 12 different breeding ponds with different levels of radiation

For their study, Dr.  Orizaola and his co-author, Pablo Burraco, more than 200 male frogs from 12 different breeding ponds with different levels of radiation

For their study, Dr. Orizaola and his co-author, Pablo Burraco, more than 200 male frogs from 12 different breeding ponds with different levels of radiation

On April 26, 1986, a power plant on the outskirts of Pripyat suffered a massive accident in which one of the reactors caught fire and exploded, spreading radioactive material into the surroundings

On April 26, 1986, a power plant on the outskirts of Pripyat suffered a massive accident in which one of the reactors caught fire and exploded, spreading radioactive material into the surroundings

On April 26, 1986, a power plant on the outskirts of Pripyat suffered a massive accident in which one of the reactors caught fire and exploded, spreading radioactive material into the surroundings

“This small percentage would have benefited from the protection of melanin, especially at the time of the accident, when radiation levels were much higher and the diversity of radioisotopes wider.

‘Under this scenario, they should have survived better and reproduced better than the normal green frogs.

‘Over time – 10 to 12 generations of frogs have passed since the accident – this would have resulted in these black frogs being predominant within the exclusion zone.’

But with radiation levels much lower today, the jury is out on whether the black frogs will remain dominant.

With radiation levels much lower today, the jury is out on whether the black frogs will remain dominant

With radiation levels much lower today, the jury is out on whether the black frogs will remain dominant

With radiation levels much lower today, the jury is out on whether the black frogs will remain dominant

Dr. Orizaola said: ‘Since the protective role of melanin is not so crucial right now, with much lower levels of radiation, they may disappear.

‘However, our study also shows that the maintenance of this black color does not seem to entail high costs – there are e.g. no increase in the level of oxidative stress.

‘So it can go on.’

On April 26, 1986, a power plant on the outskirts of Pripyat suffered a massive accident, where one of the reactors caught fire and exploded, spreading radioactive material into the surroundings.

More than 160,000 residents of the city and surrounding areas had to be evacuated and have not been able to return, leaving the former Soviet territory as a radioactive ghost town.

WHAT HAPPENED DURING THE 1986 CHERNOBYL NUCLEAR DISASTER?

On April 26, 1986, a power plant on the outskirts of Pripyat suffered a massive accident, where one of the reactors caught fire and exploded, spreading radioactive material into the surroundings.

More than 160,000 residents of the city and surrounding areas had to be evacuated and have not been able to return, leaving the former Soviet territory as a radioactive ghost town.

Last year, NASA scientists sent eight mushroom species from the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone (pictured in red) into space, where they were placed on board the International Space Station

Last year, NASA scientists sent eight mushroom species from the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone (pictured in red) into space, where they were placed on board the International Space Station

A map of the Chernobyl exclusion zone is pictured above. The ‘ghost town’ of Pripyat is located near the site of the disaster

The exclusion zone, which covers a significant area of ​​Ukraine and some of the borders with Belarus, will remain in effect for generations to come until radiation levels fall to sufficiently safe levels.

The region is called a ‘dead zone’ because of the extensive radiation that continues.

The abundance of wildlife in the area contradicts this, and many argue that the region should be handed over to the animals that have become established in the area, creating a radioactively protected wildlife sanctuary.