'Gentler devil' hope for marsupial threatened by facial cancer
PARIS (AFP) - Could the Tasmanian devil, a ferocious marsupial threatened by facial tumours spread by biting, be saved by a change of character? Zoologists think there's a chance.
The wild population of devils has slumped by more than 90 per cent since the facial cancer first surfaced in 1996, and there is neither a cure nor a vaccine.
But a four-year investigation by a team led by Mr Rodrigo Hamede of the University of Tasmania found something intriguing: the less often an animal was bitten, the likelier it was to become infected.
The finding is "surprising and counter-intuitive", said Mr Hamede.