The effects of the Chernobyl Power Plant meltdown in 1986 are still being felt today, after a new scientific study has claimed that mutant black frogs are now being found near the area.

The explosion at the site saw the largest ever release of radioactive nuclear material into the world in human history – and it appears to be still hampering the local area more than 35 years on.

Researchers from the University of Oviedo in Spain analysed around a 1,000 sq mile area around the still-dangerous area around the plant.

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And they have no found unusual-looking frogs never seen anywhere else in the world.

Lead researcher German Orizaola 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 detected many frogs that were just black.

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

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

“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.”

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Around 200 male frogs from 12 different breeding areas around the exclusion zone for the test.

The ones nearest the plant were found to have darker skin than the rest – although exactly how they managed to survive the radiation is still unknown.

Dr Orizaola added: “Since the protective role of melanin is not that crucial right now, with much lower levels of radiation, they may fade away.

“However, our study also shows that the maintenance of this black colouration seems not to incur a high cost – there's no increase in oxidative stress levels, for example.

“So it may persist.”

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