Devils Breed Earlier to Stave Off Cancer

Attempt to outlast disease could be evolutionary
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 14, 2008 8:46 PM CDT
A Tasmanian devil searches for food in his enclosure at Taronga Zoo in Sydney, Australia, Wednesday, May 21, 2008.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Tasmanian devils are reproducing at a younger age to offset a contagious cancer epidemic, the Daily Telegraph reports. The ill-tempered marsupials, suffering from tumors that cut their lifespan in half, are now breeding at age 1 instead of 2 or 3. "We could be seeing evolution occurring before our eyes," one expert told the AP—though the devils may still die off in about 25 years.