The world’s largest surviving carnivorous marsupial is falling prey to a bizarre infectious cancer – and if this continues will soon catapult it to the Endangered Species list. It’s the Tasmanian devil. The infectious cancer seems to be the cause of the fatal facial tumors, the devils are victim of. Since the mid-1990s, the disease has already killed at least a third of the wild population, had now infected devils across more than half the island!
The animals may be passing on cancerous cells during fights, according to early analysis of the tumors. A genetic analysis of tumour cells from 37 animals is performed by a team led by Anne-Maree Pearse of Tasmania’s department of primary industries.
Instead of the usual 14 healthy ones all the tumours from the first 11 animals contain cells with 13 grossly abnormal chromosomes. Whatever their stage of development, they were genetically identical. This suggests they did not arise in the animals’ own tissue.
Via: New Scientist