See Inside March 2007

Sympathy for the Devil

Ideas emerge to save the dying tasmanian devil

During the past 10 years, a contagious and fatal cancer has decimated the world's Tasmanian devils. Pustulant tumors that become infested with maggots deform their faces, forcing teeth from their jaws. The devils eventually starve, but not before passing on the virulent cancer. Concerned that the disease could wipe out the devils, conservationists have already started planning how they might reintroduce the species if it goes extinct.

Resembling a small black dog with white splotches, these marsupial carnivores once lived in mainland Australia but today remain only on its island state of Tasmania. Devils have a ravenous appetite, an unearthly growl and a bone-crunching jaw strength that they use to devour carrion--skin, bones and all.

This is only a preview. Get the rest of this article now!

Select an option below:

Customer Sign In

*You must have purchased this issue or have a qualifying subscription to access this content

It has been identified that the institution you are trying to access this article from has institutional site license access to Scientific American on
Click here to access this article in its entirety through site license access.

Rights & Permissions
Share this Article:


You must sign in or register as a member to submit a comment.
Scientific American Holiday Sale

Scientific American Mind Digital

Get 6 bi-monthly digital issues
+ 1yr of archive access for just $9.99

Hurry this offer ends soon! >


Email this Article


Next Article