Flash! Hope for Tasmanian devils
Let’s start with this…Tasmanian devils are real animals.
They are small, muscular marsupials. Yes, they are legendarily vicious…they’ve certainly been known to eat other devils, and they bite each other in the face…a lot.
The latter habit has been a real problem. It would sound like a horror movie disease, if we were talking about people. There is a type of cancer, known as Devil Facial Tumor Disease. It’s cancer…but it’s contagious. When an infected individual bites another animal, they can pass the condition on to the other one. Horrible, disfiguring facial tumors can follow. They will get so bad, that the animal will be unable to eat, and will starve to death. It can destroy an entire colony of devils in less than two years.
Is it a serious threat? Yes. Since 1996, something like 70 percent of the wild population has been wiped out. It that were humans, we’d be looking at close to 5 billion deaths. Extinction (in the wild) estimates were as low as 25 years from now. They were listed as an endangered species in 2009.
Now, though, a resistant colony has been found. It’s possible that some animals are genetically different enough to survive the apocalypse.
There is hope.