tasm-devil-wayne-mcclean-cc.jpgFierce as they are, Tasmanian devils cannot beat a contagious cancer that threatens to wipe them out. Now scientists think they’ve found the disease’s origin, good news in the race to save Australia’s snarling marsupial.

The furry black animals spread a fast-killing cancer when they bite each other’s faces. Since the disease’s discovery in 1996, their numbers have plummeted by 70 percent. Last spring, Australia listed the devils as an endangered species.

An international research team picked apart the cancer’s genes, and discovered that it apparently first arose in cells that protect the animals’ nerves.

(Continue reading AP story from CBS News)

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