Common opinion considers the cockroaches as “able to survive a nuclear war”, but will it be real? Or is it just an urban legend? Read on to find out the whole truth.
The short answer to the first question is: yes, roughly. These creatures were found in the rubble following the nuclear bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. Of course, it is also possible that the cockroaches arrived later in the area. So, experts – including the Mythbusters team – tested their radiation resistance to see if the reputation about them was true.
Scientists exposed several groups of cockroaches, fruit flies and meal moths for a month to 1,000, 10,000 and 100,000 rads (an acronym for Radiation Absorbed Dose), a unit of absorbed dose of radiation. After the experiment, 10% of the 10,000 rad group beetles were still alive, we’re talking about 10 times the lethal dose for humans, but they all died at the highest dose.
Only the 10% of the meal moths, on the other hand, survived the 100,000 rad for all 30 days. The experiment, however, did not examine whether the survivors were capable of producing viable offspring. If they resisted a nuclear war but couldn’t bear children, these creatures would easily go extinct.
Not only that: in the event of a nuclear war, ants, according to the evolutionary biologist Mark Elgar, especially those that create their nests in depth, “they would be more likely to survive an apocalypse than cockroaches“Surely one creature that would enjoy the show is the tardigrade, who survived all five mass extinctions.