Study: Tasmanian Devil may face extinction

June 29, 2006

A rare cancer is reportedly decimating Australia's dwindling Tasmanian Devil population, ABC News reported Thursday.

The cancer, called Devil Facial Tumor Disease, causes contagious facial tumors and scientists estimate up to half the animals in the wild have been killed.

Although initially detected in the middle 1990s, the seriousness of the disease was not fully known until 2003 -- after killing an estimated 75,000 of the marsupials, ABC said.

The disease affects the animals' mouths and many die of starvation.

"This is a very, very serious disease," veterinarian and wildlife researcher David Obendorf told Australian TV. "We may well see the devil become extinct in the wild."

Originally regarded as a pest by residents of the Australian state of Tasmania, farmers have come to appreciate the Devils, ABC noted, because they keep the mice population in check and even consume dead animal carcasses, which helps prevent the spread of disease.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: Deadly Tasmanian Devil cancer found in 'clean' area

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Where can I buy a chair like that? This app will tell you

August 23, 2016

If you think you have a knack for interior design, or just want to spruce up your own home, new technology developed by Cornell researchers may help you choose furnishings the way professionals do. And professionals may find ...

Fossilized rivers suggest warm, wet ancient Mars

August 23, 2016

Extensive systems of fossilised riverbeds have been discovered on an ancient region of the Martian surface, supporting the idea that the now cold and dry Red Planet had a warm and wet climate about 4 billion years ago, according ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.