Study: Tasmanian Devil may face extinction

Jun 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: Myanmar captures rare white elephant in western jungles

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Spacewalking astronauts finish extensive, trick cable job

24 minutes ago

(AP)—Spacewalking astronauts successfully completed a three-day cable job outside the International Space Station on Sunday, routing several-hundred feet of power and data lines for new crew capsules commissioned ...

IOC defends Rio legacy amid green protests

2 hours ago

Ecological protests on Saturday dogged the final day of an International Olympic Committee executive board meeting in Rio as green campaigners slated the choice of a nature reserve to hold the golf event ...

Recommended for you

Sall4 is required for DNA repair in stem cells

34 minutes ago

A protein that helps embryonic stem cells (ESCs) retain their identity also promotes DNA repair, according to a study in The Journal of Cell Biology. The findings raise the possibility that the protein, Sall4, ...

Desmoplakin's tail gets the message

35 minutes ago

Cells control the adhesion protein desmoplakin by modifying the tail end of the protein, and this process goes awry in some patients with arrhythmogenic cardiomyopathy, according to a study in The Journal of ...

How animals survive Norwegian winter nights

52 minutes ago

Norwegian mammals and birds have many different methods of surviving long, intense winter nights. A biologist from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) University Museum reveals their ...

User comments : 0

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.