Opinion Brief

Japan's earless rabbit: A radiation mutant?

A freakish bunny born near the leaking Fukishima Daiishi nuclear plant is prompting panic — but skeptics maintain it's all just an eerie coincidence

The video: As Japanese officials consider evacuating more towns in the face of frightening levels of radiation from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, a mutant rabbit has become an unlikely "poster child" for radiation exposure. A video taken in late May, reportedly shot just outside the Fukushima exclusion zone, captures a strangely earless rabbit (watch the video below) that is prompting panicky fears of radiation damage to human fetuses.

The reaction: This creature "is almost certainly not... a genuine mutant bunny," says Natasha Lennard at Salon. Experts say it's unlikely the bunny's earless state is due to radiation, pointing out that similarly freakish rabbits have been born in other areas, far from nuclear disaster. True, says Ben Muessig at Aol, but even if there's another, more benign explanation, "there's no denying that the radiation emitting from Fukushima Daiichi, about 140 miles northeast of Tokyo, poses a major health risk." See a video of the unnerving cottontail for yourself:

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