National Geographic

The Strangest Cancer In the World

In thirty years, Tasmanian devils may be gone from the face of the Earth. If they do vanish, they will be wiped out in a fashion unlike any other endangered species we know of. The marsupials have developed a cancer that acts like a parasite, jumping from host to host.

In today’s New York Times, I take a look at what scientists are now learning about this strange contagious tumor, and the desperate measures they’re going to in order to protect the species from its unique devastation.

[Image: Arthur Chapman, Flickr/Creative Commons]

There are 11 Comments. Add Yours.

  1. Casey
    January 22, 2013

    Really? Coyotes and then Tasmanian devils? Where are you going with this?

  2. Wilson
    January 22, 2013

    This spring the team plans to take more devils to Maria (pronounced ma-RYE-uh).

    Huh, so they call the island Maria? Hopefully, they renamed the wind there, so they don’t get the two confused. ; )

  3. Gary
    January 22, 2013

    This was fascinating and points out the advantage of genetic diversity. Not a new story though…

  4. Barry
    January 22, 2013

    Well do they think they a cure will be found? And could this spread to humans?

  5. Liam
    January 22, 2013

    Always been fascinated by this phenomenon. Hopefully we can find a way to prevent this ‘tumor’ from spreading between the creatures in the wild! But due to their nature they are more than likely going to spread this “disease” to all of their species… Quite a sad way for any species to be taken out by.

  6. ALIO IBRAHIM
    January 22, 2013

    I’m new In this field, interested,in discovering nature, through ur site, thanks.

  7. ALIO IBRAHIM
    January 22, 2013

    Thanks, for connecting me, i will be glad to connect to global world by touch of the button.

  8. ALIO IBRAHIM
    January 22, 2013

    I’m new In this field, interested,in discovering nature, through ur site, this is very strange discovery,interestingly ,scientist are still perturbed by the cure of HIV/Aids, this will be another big head ache, thanks.

  9. Shiraz
    January 22, 2013

    Check out the radiolab episode “famous tumors” for a good piece about this.

  10. Paulina
    January 22, 2013

    It’s like the transmissible venereal tumor in dogs??

  11. kisali livejoy
    January 23, 2013

    scientists must find a way to protecting the uninfected t-devils by isolation, when research of finding a cure progresses

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