Sunday, April 24, 2011

Tasmania Devils Having Hard Time With Devil Facial Tumor Disease

I have invited another writer freedomw from InfoBarrel to share one of his articles with my followers, I hope you enjoy reading his article.


Why am I, freedomw, writing about the Tasmania Devil? It’s not because I’m an Aussie who grew up in Down Under. The name itself is exotic, and I grew up watching Loony tunes cartoons. One of the characters that were created is based upon the marsupial, which has either brown or black fur and sturdy, muscular build. [1 - 2]


In contrast to the Tasmania Devil having a bear-like appearance, it is a small animal. They are as long as 30 inches (76 centimeters and weight up to only 26 pounds (12 kilograms). They are most closely related to Quolls, and are a member of the Dasyuridae family. Most of them have a white patch or stripe on their chest and light spots on their sides or rear end. As for the length of their four legs, the rear ones are shorter than the long front legs. [1 - 2]


Another good reason to write about the Tasmania devils is that they are an endangered species, according to the IUCN Red List. There used to be a plethora of them in continental Australia. They were absolutely annihilated in the mainland approximately 400 years ago possibly because the climate increasingly became more drier. Biologists think it is possible that Asian dogs, or dingoes, play a role in their extinction on the mainland. Conversely on the island state of Tasmania, dingoes doesn’t inhabit there. The island has bountiful of Tasmania devils living in coastal woodlands and dry sclerophyll forests. Dingoes were not able to enter Tasmania because of the vast body of water called Bass Strait that blocked their way. [1 - 2]


During the late 1800s, the carnivorous Tasmania devils were suspected of killing livestock. Therefore, they were hunted and ultimately were close to being extinct. Fortunately, the Australian government passed a law in 1941 that gave them complete protection. At the same time, their population was able to increase. [1]


Currently, the biggest trouble for the Tasmania devils is Devil Facial Tumor Disease (DFTD), which has made both the Tasmania government’s Threatened Species Protection Act 1995 and the IUCN Red list declaring them an endangered species. Sometime during the mid-1990s there used to be about 150,000 Tasmania devils. In 2008, people calculated there were only about 10,000 - 25,000 of them. [1]


There are other threats to the survival of the Tasmania devils, but I prefer to only mention Devil Facial Tumor Disease because I have high interest in writing about medical disorders. It is fascinating to read and explore the conditions that may adversely affect living things. It is also unique to read about the things that are capable of causing extreme physical and mental problems. [1]


Sometime in the mid 1990s Devil Facial Tumor Disease was pinpointed for the first time as a transmissible rare contagious cancer that can cause big tumors (large lumps) to form around the mouth and head. It therefore tragically meddled with feeding and eventually causing death. Sixty percent of Tasmania has some presence of DFTD as of February 2010. The eastern portion of Tasmania has its population of the Tassies decimated quickly. Some clusters of the population have its inhabitants decreased by as much as 95%. [1 - 2]


The Tasmania devil’s immune system doesn’t recognize Devil Facial Tumor Disease’s cancer cells as foreign. So, there isn’t an immune response to them. That enables the disease to be virulent as the cancer cells looks the same (same genetic makeup) as healthy devil cells. The low amount of genetic diversity in the devil population causes DFTD to spread without much hindrance. [1]


The reason I’m being biased towards the article on The Free Resource.com is because I enjoy writing for that website. You might also be able to gain some valuable about other animals in Australia, or anywhere else in the world. If you like to write factual matters, maybe you can go ahead and apply to write for them. There’s no monetary incentive for me to refer others to write for The Free Resource. Maybe indirectly I could benefit from having more writers at that website somehow.


References:


[1] http://www.thefreeresource.com/the-tasmanian-devil-information-and-resources


[2] http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/tasmanian-devil.html

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