The Tasmanian devil (Sarcophilus harrisii) or Tasmanian devil occurs only on Tasmania – an island in the South of Australia. However, for years the animals die of cancer: The tumors form in the face, you have the components to drastically shrink. Scientists have been searching for years for a way to save the animals. This includes breeding programmes, special protection areas or vaccines.

Regardless of such measures, a group of scientists is now confident The cancer will not likely lead to the extinction of endangered species. Likely it will be that of the face cancer of the winds with time of the Population, argues a Team of Konstans Wells of the Welsh University of Swansea and corresponding computer simulations.

it was possible, therefore, that the Tasmanian devil develop strategies that allow them to live with the disease, the researchers write in the journal “Ecology”.

cancer is transmitted by bites

in 1996 the deadly facial cancer (Devil Facial Tumour Disease, DFTD) was discovered in the North-East of the island for the first time. The disease is contagious. It is transmitted by bites, which occur in the mating season or when Fighting for food among the animals quite often.

individual cancer cells directed to the Partner or opponent, and can settle. Due to the facial cancer, which can be up to 70 centimetres long, and twelve-kilogram animals are disfigured, hideous. Many die in agony because they can no longer eat because of the ulcers in the mouth and throat.


Since the Emergence of the cancer in the Population of the devil shrank drastically – by about 80 percent. Researchers feared that the Tasman could be the extinction of the devil. The scientists Wells created a computer model with information on the population structure and the number of diseased animals were collected in the past ten years. They examined then, how the disease is spread under various assumed scenarios in the future.

“Direct intervention is necessary”

57% of the simulations showed that the cancer will slowly disappear from the Population, 22 per cent came to the conclusion that the Tasmanian devil develop adaptation strategies.

“Our results suggest that immediate interventions are necessary to the Survival of the Tasman to ensure of the devil,” says Wells. “The sharp decline in the Population after the first Occurrence of the disease translated, not necessarily in a long-term population decline.”

An understanding of the underlying processes is mainly due to the discovery of a new Form of a transmissible cancer is important, adds co-investigator Rodrigo Hamede of the University of Tasmania. The very similar “the Devil Facial tumour 2” is called the disease primarily affects populations in the South-East of the island.

resistance against the Tumor

as early as 2016, researchers had reported that Tasman have of devil may be a weapon against the deadly cancer. They found members of three populations of some genetic characteristics, which give the animals a resistance to the infectious Tumor. This is an extraordinarily rapid evolutionary response to the spread of the disease, reported the international team of researchers, at the time, in the journal “Nature Communications”.

Recently, scientists in a remote Region of the island, had discovered 14 healthy Tasmanian devil. The discovery of animals with a fresh genetic diversity to offer perhaps the Chance to save the Population, it was in the summer of 2018.