Something extraordinary is evolving among the feisty inhabitants of the remote north-west coast of Tasmania. Something that’s both astounding and delighting the researchers monitoring them.
For more than 20 years, these apple-isle locals have been suffering an ugly cancer that’s caused population numbers to rapidly decline. The problem has raised many complex questions and stirred urgent conservation efforts among research institutions around the world. But now, in an unprecedented and ground-breaking discovery, an isolated colony of Tasmanian devils appear to be saving themselves from extinction.
Having immersed herself and her research in the devil’s world for a number of years, Dr Beata Ujvari, an evolutionary ecologist and Senior Lecturer in Bioinformatics and Genetics at Deakin University, is excited by the new findings. ‘Encouragingly, the results suggest the devils may be able to overcome the extinction threat of the disease that has devastated the population for over two decades.’