At least no more so than any other rabbit. Yes, it is made up of atoms, which include a nucleus. Yes, it does get its energy indirectly from the sun, which is nuclear. Yes, the elements that compose it were created in nuclear reactions in ancient stars. Yes, it is radioactive, due to potassium-40 and carbon-14.
(Direct link for those who can’t view embedded videos)
But other than that, there’s nothing “nuclear” about this rabbit.
A media frenzy followed the posting of the above video which was accompanied with the following description (translated to English):
After the incident, while the government was reporting there were no immediate health effects and evacuation was unnecessary, those of us in Namie werenâ€™t being given any information about what was going on.
I thought I was going to be silenced in some cover-up between the national and prefectural governments. I was working outside at home when the #3 reactor exploded and my face and throat were scalded. I thought I was going to die at any moment.
I continued to feed my rabbits the grass from outside of my house, and sometime after the rabbit with no ears was born. It was the first deformity I have ever seen with my rabbits. Rabbits reproduce faster than humans, and so perhaps this is a vision of the children that will be born after this incident.
Why this doesn’t actually mean anything:
- The total dose level in the area around Fukushima is low. While there have been some spikes in the radiation levels, it’s not high enough that a major increase in mutations would be expected. When past incidents (such as Chernobyl, weapons tests and other events) have lead to increased radiation exposure of local animal populations, such obviously manifested mutations were not frequently observed. The actual rabbit in question was born more than 30 km from the Fukushima plant, where radiation levels have barely risen at all.
- Although mutations can result in obvious physical changes to an organism’s offspring, it’s rare. Most mutations either produce no noticeable change or alter the way a protein is synthesized or some other biochemical process that is not readily observable in the physical characteristics of an organism. Seeing an organism with one single mutation that is shown in such an obvious way without interfering with other development of the organism is very unusual – although not entirely impossible.
- Even if this is a mutation, it is not necessarily related to radiation from Fukushima. Mutations happen all the time and in a large enough population they will be observed every once in a while.
- Rabbits without ears or with very small external ears are not unknown. They’ve been seen many times before. In the UK, in the United States, Singapore and elsewhere. It appears to be a relatively common birth defect in rabbits which is seen from time to time in any rabbit population. Lack of developed ears is more likely to be a developmental issue than a genetic one.
- While there are some rabbits that are confirmed to have been born ear-less, there’s no proof that this one was. Rabbit breeders report it is fairly common for rabbits to lose their ears due to over-grooming by the mother shortly after birth. That may well be what happened to this rabbit, or it may have lost its ears by some other means.
So what we have is a rabbit that does not have ears, but probably was born with ears. If it was born without ears (which it probably wasn’t), it was probably the result of a developmental fluke and not a mutation. If it was born without ears (which it probably wasn’t) and it was the result of a mutation (which it probably wasn’t) then it probably wasn’t related to the Fukushima nuclear power plant.
Note you have to get pretty deep into “probably wasn’t” before it is possible to associate this rabbit with the incidents at the Fukushima nuclear power plant.
This entry was posted on Thursday, June 9th, 2011 at 11:38 am and is filed under Bad Science, Enviornment, Nuclear, media. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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