Tuesday, 6 September 2016

The Quick Non-Evolution of the Tasmanian Devil

Sarcophilus harrisii. Image courtesy of Mike Lehmann, Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0).

Joel Kontinen

Perhaps best known as a fierce cartoon character, the Tasmanian devil (Sarcophilus harrisii) has for decades been on the verge of extinction.

Many of these notoriously ferocious marsupials suffer from a cancer known as the devil facial tumour disease (DFTD) that is very contagious.

However, researchers recently noticed that the devil's immune system is helping it to recognise the cancer and fight against it.

They saw changes in seven genes, five of which are known to have an effect on “cancer or immune function” in other animals and also in humans.

This development is being hailed as rapid evolution, though we can’t see any morphological changes in the animals, i.e., their size and shape hasn’t changed at all.

But their immune system is fighting against disease, like it does in all living creatures.

It seems that this is yet another case in which Darwinists use the e-word for something that has nothing to do with any of the classical definitions of (goo-to-you) evolution.


Boddy, Jessica. 2016. Tasmanian devils are rapidly evolving resistance to a contagious cancer. Science (30 August).