Above is a photograph I took of a Tasmanian Devil in January 2009 at the Tasmanian Devil Conservation Park in Tasmania. Links to my previous posts on the Tassie Devil are at the bottom. (I’m just wild about the devils!)
The Tasmanian devil, a fox-sized marsupial, was listed in Australia as an endangered species in May 2009 because of a contagious cancer that has wiped out more than half of the wild population. New research shows that the cancers are caused by infectious tumors, rather than viruses as previously thought. One scientist described the tumors, which are passed from devil to devil through bites, as a parasite. The new finding will help scientists to devise vaccines that could save the Tasmanian devils and also shed light on the nature of infectious cancers in humans.
Devils do not exist in the wild outside Tasmania, although zoos and wildlife parks on mainland Australia as well as on Tasmania are breeding captive populations as a strategy against total extinction. The Tasmanian Devil is the largest carnivorous marsupial now that the Tasmanian Tiger is extinct.
For details on this study, here is a New York Times Article: Scientists Discover Origin of a Cancer in Tasmanian Devils
My previous posts about and photographs of the Tasmanian Devil: