“Biologists first encountered
the cancer in the late 1990s. The tumors grew on the devils’ faces
or inside their mouths, and within six months the animals were
dead. The first cases appeared in eastern Tasmania, and with each
passing year the cancer’s range expanded westward. When scientists
examined the cells in the tumors, they got a baffling surprise. The
DNA from each tumor did not match the Tasmanian devil on which it
grew. Instead, it matched the tumors on other devils. That meant
that the cancer was contagious, spreading from one animal to
—Nature, in all its weird and terrifying glory, is killing off the already endangered Tasmanian Devils with contagious face cancer. The disease hasn’t yet jumped to humans, yet.
Photo by variationblogr.