Deadly cancer less of a threat to Tasmanian devils

Only about 25,000 Tasmanian devils remain, and their numbers have been reduced by a deadly face cancer. Credit: Mathias Appel

A highly contagious face cancer was expected to devastate Tasmanian devil populations, but a new analysis paints a brighter picture. Researchers have found that the deadly disease has become less transmissible, suggesting it won’t drive Tasmanian devils (Sarcophilus harrisii), which number only about 25,000, to extinction. Instead, researcher Andrew Storfer tells Science News, devil facial tumor disease may remain at lower levels or “the tumor itself might eventually go extinct.”

Read more in Science News, and read the study in Science.