Mysterious Cancer Kills 75,000+ Tasmanian Devils

One day at a time…Tasmanian Devil, Sarcophilus harrisii

Tasmanian devils are suddenly on the verge of total extinction, due to a mysterious facial cancer that is spreading rapidly through their population. Since the first sick animal’s discovery, eleven years ago, the cancer has swept through Tasmania like a plague, sometimes killing every single Tasmanian devil in an area within 18 months of its arrival. “Once they’ve got a lump, it’s a one way trip,” says Menna Jones, an expert on Tasmanian Devils at the University of Tasmania.

Not only does the cancer cause the host to die, but it also, inexplicably, causes erratic mating behavior in the animals. Infected devils mate too early in their lives, and end up having their children at the wrong time of year, leading to high infant mortality rates.

A tasmanian devil, moments before attacking and devouring its human prey

Tasmanian devils are known for their sheer ferocity when threatened, often boldly defending themselves against creatures many times their size, and for their ability of eating every last bit of decaying corpses, their main source of food. They even seem to display a particular fondness for chewing on skulls.

If you’re interested in helping, visit SAVE THE TASMANIAN DEVILS OFFICIAL WEBSITE.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]


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