Genetic mutations have been found in three generations of butterflies near Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear plant.
Scientists now fear the radiation could affect other species.
Around 12% of the butterflies that were exposed to nuclear fallout had abnormalities, including smaller wings and damaged eyes.
The insects were mated in a laboratory outside the fallout zone and 18% of their offspring displayed similar problems.
That figure rose to 34% in the third-generation of butterflies even though one parent from each coupling was from an unaffected population.
The tsunami of March 2011 knocked out cooling systems at the Fukushima nuclear plant, causing a meltdown in the world's worst atomic disaster for 25 years.