The Viral Vault

No this isn’t a South Park episode, a boar-pig hybrid is actually real. Scientists have discovered the hybrid species of wild boar and domestic pigs in Japan.

According to Yahoo! News, Japanese scientists were investigating the effects of radiation on animals when they discovered the hostile creatures near Fukushima.

A genetic study found that wild boar cross-bred with domestic pigs escaped from local farms in areas deserted by humans after a tsunami and an earthquake triggered the 2011 crisis at Fukushima nuclear power plant and displaced 160,000 people. For years, hunters have been tracking down the hundreds of radioactive boar with registered levels of the radioactive element caesium-137 with levels of radiation 300 times higher than what is considered to be  safe.

“Eighteen boar, phenotypically identified as wild boar, had a European domesticated pig haplotype,” the report explained. “Frequencies of this haplotype have remained stable since first detection in 2015. This result infers ongoing genetic pollution in wild boar populations from released domesticated pigs.”

The study also found that more wild boar-pig hybrids have since been discovered beyond the confines of the radiation-hit areas of Fukushima, with domestic pig genes apparently migrating into the general boar population. “The present findings suggest a need for additional genetic monitoring to document the dispersal of domestic genes within wild boar stock,” the report said.

Donovan Anderson, a research scientist involved in the study pointed out, “We may not see any changes to boar as a result of hybrids. The current behavioral changes we see are from the absence of people as boar quickly took over the abandoned areas. I think the pigs were not able to survive in the wild, but the boar thrived in the abandoned towns because they’re so robust.”

Scientists have recorded similar natural instances in the aftermath of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in Ukraine. Numbers of bears, deer, bison, wolves, lynxes and horses have multiplied after the area was abandoned in 1986. However, scientists noticed that frogs living inside the exclusion zone were much darker than those outside, suggesting that higher melanin levels may help them better cope with the radiation.

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