Move Over, Chernobyl Puppies: The Fukushima Nuclear Disaster Site Has a Vibrant Wildlife Scene, Too

UGA
UGA

Nuclear disaster sites are thought to be inhospitable to life, though time and a little luck can sometimes change course. At Chernobyl, bears, wolves, birds, and even dogs have persisted, though visitors are cautioned not to pet them, because their fur might harbor radioactive particles.

Now, there’s evidence of animal life thriving at another nuclear meltdown site. A new study in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment has confirmed that several species are making the radioactive area in Fukushima, Japan home.

While not as severe as the fallout in Chernobyl, the nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in 2011 following a massive earthquake and tsunami was catastrophic. Three nuclear reactors experienced a meltdown, prompting the Japanese government to evacuate and relocate more than 100,000 people from nearby homes.

Using cameras to capture activity across over 267,000 still frames, University of Georgia researchers found more than 20 animal species living in the Fukushima Evacuation Zone and two other less-restricted zones that limit human occupation. Wild boar, rabbits, macaque monkeys, pheasants, and foxes were all recorded.

A Japanese serow in Fukushima Prefecture, Japan is pictured
A Japanese serow, or "goat-antelope," is caught on camera in the Fukushima Evacuation Zone.
UGA

While this study didn't evaluate the health of the animals in areas affected by radiation, their behavior seems to be consistent with normal patterns. Raccoons, for example, have remained nocturnal.

Researchers also discovered sika deer, weasels, and black bears within the confines of the affected area.

Though none of the recorded animals appear to be physically affected as a result of the radiation, soon after the 2011 disaster, scientists identified deformed butterflies, with larger legs and smaller wings in the no-go zone. Fukushima’s animals may be surviving, but they may also be changing.

The ChopBox Smart Cutting Board Has a Food Scale, Timer, and Knife Sharper Built Right Into It

ChopBox
ChopBox

When it comes to furnishing your kitchen with all of the appliances necessary to cook night in and night out, you’ll probably find yourself running out of counter space in a hurry. The ChopBox, which is available on Indiegogo and dubs itself “The World’s First Smart Cutting Board,” looks to fix that by cramming a bunch of kitchen necessities right into one cutting board.

In addition to giving you a knife-resistant bamboo surface to slice and dice on, the ChopBox features a built-in digital scale that weighs up to 6.6 pounds of food, a nine-hour kitchen timer, and two knife sharpeners. It also sports a groove on its surface to catch any liquid runoff that may be produced by the food and has a second pull-out cutting board that doubles as a serving tray.

There’s a 254nm UVC light featured on the board, which the company says “is guaranteed to kill 99.99% of germs and bacteria" after a minute of exposure. If you’re more of a traditionalist when it comes to cleanliness, the ChopBox is completely waterproof (but not dishwasher-safe) so you can wash and scrub to your heart’s content without worry. 

According to the company, a single one-hour charge will give you 30 days of battery life, and can be recharged through a Micro USB port.

The ChopBox reached its $10,000 crowdfunding goal just 10 minutes after launching its campaign, but you can still contribute at different tiers. Once it’s officially released, the ChopBox will retail for $200, but you can get one for $100 if you pledge now. You can purchase the ChopBox on Indiegogo here.

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A Prehistoric Great White Shark Nursery Has Been Discovered in Chile

Great white sharks used prehistoric nurseries to protect their young.
Great white sharks used prehistoric nurseries to protect their young.
solarseven/iStock via Getty Images

Great white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) may be one of the most formidable and frightening apex predators on the planet today, but life for them isn’t as easy as horror movies would suggest. Due to a slow growth rate and the fact that they produce few offspring, the species is listed as vulnerable to extinction.

There is a way these sharks ensure survival, and that is by creating nurseries—a designated place where great white shark babies (called pups) are protected from other predators. Now, researchers at the University of Vienna and colleagues have discovered these nurseries occurred in prehistoric times.

In a study published in the journal Scientific Reports, Jamie A. Villafaña from the university’s Institute of Palaeontology describes a fossilized nursery found in Coquimbo, Chile. Researchers were examining a collection of fossilized great white shark teeth between 5 and 2 million years old along the Pacific coast of Chile and Peru when they noticed a disproportionate number of young shark teeth in Coquimbo. There was also a total lack of sexually mature animals' teeth, which suggests the site was used primarily by pups and juveniles as a nursery.

Though modern great whites are known to guard their young in designated areas, the researchers say this is the first example of a paleo-nursery. Because the climate was much warmer when the paleo-nursery was in use, the researchers think these protective environments can deepen our understanding of how great white sharks can survive global warming trends.