The Devil is in the Detail


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The Devils Lair

What the Devil?

Better the Devil You Know

The Devil is in the Detail

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

Speak of the Devil

Gossip is the Devil's radio

The Devil's Angels


Here you will find information about the science behind the Tasmanian Devil and the problems they are currently experiencing. Here you will learn more about facial tumours, biodiversity, genetic diversity and histology.

Tasmanian Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD)

Tasmania's iconic species the Tasmanian devil is facing extinction as a result of a deadly disease known as Tasmanian Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD). First discovered in 1996, DFTD is a contagious cancer that is transmitted between individuals through biting. Transmission mainly occurs during mating, but can also occur during feeding, as devils often bite one another during these interactions. The disease causes tumours to form around the mouth and nose and once infected the devil loses the ability to eat, causing starvation within months. DFTD was first noticed in the north-east region of Tasmania, and currently more than 60% of devil populations in Tasmania are affected. The disease has caused a loss of up to 95% of devils in the most affected areas.

In May 2008, the Tasmanian devil was listed as 'Endangered'. Without intervention, DFTD could occur across Tasmania within five years, and potentially cause extinction of the devil within ten years. Conservation programs such as 'Save The Tasmanian Devil' have been established by the Department of Primary Industries and Water in Tasmania to try to prevent Tasmanian devils from extinction. The program aims to increase our knowledge of the disease through research, while managing the devil populations currently infected with DFTD. The 'Save The Tasmanian Devil' program also created captive breeding populations, which act as a 'back up' or insurance population in-case devils become extinct in the wild.

General Information

The following are links to pages within the Uniserve Science site that deal with the general science issues

Other links

Australia’s Biodiversity Conservation Strategy 2010–2020: Consultation draft (pdf 2.18MB) general information about biodiversity and the Australian context

Biodiversity Fact Sheets - from Australian Museum - links to different articles and information sheets.


Suggested learning activities

UniServe Science, with staff from Faculty of Veterniary Science have developed activites forSecondary students based on the Captive Breeding Populations. This is aimed at a Year 9-10 level and includes a graphig exercise.

Teacher's Guide (pdf 100kB)

Student Activity Sheet (pdf 89kB)