Mean Tasmanian devils get cancer; nice ones don’t
In the epic songs that Tasmanian devils sing in the future (assuming that Tasmanian devils can sing, and that there are any left to sing epic songs), this period will likely be known as one of suffering and retribution by some angry god for the unrighteous behavior that has spread among the devil population. Because these guys have some serious Sodom and Gomorrah shit going down.
The devils have been afflicted by a terrible plague — an infectious cancer, only one of two in the world, that guarantees that its victims will die a horrible death. The cancer causes tumors to grow all over the devils’ faces, which keeps the victims from eating, and they eventually starve to death.
But the cancer doesn’t attack all devils equally. It is the most vengeful devils, the most aggressive, the most likely to bite other devils’ be-tumored faces that are most likely to contract the disease.
That’s what a team of scientists at the University of Tasmania discovered, the Guardian reports. Tasmanian devils spread this cancer when they bite one another, but the team found that the devils with the fewest bites — i.e., the ones starting the attacks, not the ones suffering them — were actually more likely to have the disease. When these aggressive devils bite other devils’ tumors, they get the disease themselves. (Lesson: Do not bite someone else’s tumor.)
Gentle devils, on the other hand, are less likely to have the disease, and if the species is to survive in the long term, it is these nice guys who have the greatest chance of carrying on the race. At which point they’ll need a new name. Is “Tasmanian angels” too obvious? What about “Tasmanian mensches”?
Gentle Tasmanian devils may be key to species' survival, study shows, The Guardian.