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    A Tasmanian Devil, a heavily built marsupial with a large head, powerful jaws, and mainly black fur, found only in Tasmania, is held by a wildlife officer on the grounds of Parliament House on Sept. 7, 2010

    Thought to be Extinct, Healthy Tasmanian Devil Clan Discovered in Australia

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    At first feared to be extinct, a clan of healthy Tasmanian devils, has been discovered alive and well in a remote part of southwest Tasmania, the large island just south of Australia.

    Scientists, working to save the species of small furry mammals discovered a healthy troupe of the marsupials — known in academia as Sarcophilus harrisii — and are fighting to save the endangered creatures from extinction.

    The animal's population was slashed following the spread of a fast-acting and highly-infectious facial cancer that killed over 80 percent of the species, according to the BBC.

    A crowdfunded campaign to discover remaining healthy specimens — if they existed — sent a search party to extremely remote regions of the island, large areas of which are little explored.

    A collaboration between the University of Sydney Faculty of Science, the University of Sydney, Ohio's Toledo Zoo and the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program, the research team explored wilderness areas across Wreck Bay and Nye Bay, seeking to trap the animals and gather tissue samples to enable health and genetic tests.

    After over a week of slogging through untracked wilderness, they found what they were looking for.

    "The 14 individual devils trapped were in good condition," stated team leader Dr. Sam Fox, who is affiliated with the Toledo Zoo.

    "More importantly, there were no signs of disease. Overall the results show that the population in this area of the south-west coast is small and healthy," Fox noted.

    Dr. David Pemberton, a program manager with the Save the Tasmanian Devil organization, stated that the discovery was "very significant," cited by BBC.

    "Finding devils with fresh genetic diversity gives us opportunities" to save the species, Pemberton observed.

    The Tasmanian devil is found only on the island of Tasmania, and is the world's largest carnivorous marsupial. Its growling, screaming call inspired early naturalists and explorers to the southern island to give it it's fearsome nickname.

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    Tags:
    Tasmanian Devil, biology, extinction, University of Sydney, Ohio, Australia, Tasmania
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