They’re vicious little bastards at best. However, I do regard this as good news:
Tasmanian devils are developing an evolutionary response to a deadly transmissible cancer that has wiped out 80% of the species in the past 20 years, a new study has found.
Devil facial tumour disease, one of only three known transmissible cancers, has swept across nearly the entire species’ range of Tasmanian devils. However, populations predicted to be extinct by now continue to persist, albeit in low numbers.
A new genetic study, published in the journal Nature Communications, has now revealed that the mammals are rapidly evolving to defend themselves against it.
Cue the observation from Matt Ridley’s Red Queen. Rather the point of sex is to speed up the mixing of genes so that there’s at least a possibility of out evolving the parasites and diseases. Not that it developed because of that point, but that extant species are descended from those who managed to out evolve those parasites and diseases.
As, say, the Gros Michel banana, a clone, did not……