It looks like Tasmanian Devils are able to ward off a fatal type of cancer. This is all thanks to their evolution as a biological species.
Tasmanian Devils are a vicious bad-tempered species of animals that belong to the wildlife heritage of Australia. The unique nature of this species has given rise to a Loony Tunes cartoon character that spreads havoc and travels in the form of a whirlwind.
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Yet the sad fact is that in the last 20 years, populations of Tasmanian Devils have gone down by 85%. This makes this rodent-like animal enter the endangered species list.
These marsupials are being devastated by a cancer that has overtaken their gene pool. Yet the scientists are now finding out that these animals are a hardy lot that are developing resistance to this cancer.
Thus their immune systems are fighting back and they are recovering from their plight of dwindling numbers. This fact alone shows that their populations can be replenished with the passage of time.
There is still hope. Not all is lost. There is a bonus lesson in this. The way these robust beasts are fighting cancer can be copied and thus serve to benefit our human popuation in its quest to resist the ravaging disease.
DNA taken from ten thousand tissue samples of Tasmanian Devils showed the trend towards catching the cancer and how the animals resisted it later on.
This is a record that spans the past two decades. It is indeed an object lesson in the fighting spirit and survival mechanism of an animal that has its back against the wall.
There were actually seven genes that played a role in the cancer inherent in the Tasmanian Devil population. Soon the populations were gaining immunity and resistance to the cancers which was a good sign.
The art of survival is something which can be learnt from the Tasmanian Devil. Just when the scientists and wildlife conservationists had virtually given up on the species, it showed a remarkable revival in its overall numbers.
Two small portions of the DNA of Tasmanian Devils seem to have developed a structure that makes them less likely to succumb to the cancer. It was the disease itself which was losing its threatening hold on the species.
Five of the seven genes found in Tasmanian Devils are also found in human beings. Thus novel insights could be revealed regarding a cure for various types of cancers in humans.
Evolution is all about the survival of the fittest. Just like many species that were thought to be extinct turned out to have a limited population still extant, Tasmanian Devils will hopefully flourish in the future given half the chance by humans and other species in the eco-webs that surround them in Australia.
The study got published in the journal Nature Communications.