How Tasmanian devils are evolving to fight back against extinction

Devil facial tumor disease, or DFTD, has cut the Tasmanian devil population by 90 percent. Now, some devils have evolved to resist the virulent cancer.

GREG WOOD/AFP/Getty Images
  • Devil facial tumor disease, or DFTD, is a transmissible cancer that Tasmanian devils spread through bites.
  • The cancer is highly infectious and lethal, and the Tasmanian devil population has dropped by 90 percent since it was first discovered.
  • In the short time that we've known about the disease, however, the devils seem to be evolving new defenses that are helping some of them fight back and survive.
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Surprising Science

Why experts are certain another influenza pandemic will occur

It's been 100 years since the world's last deadliest flu pandemic. Experts warn that another one is inevitable, but are we ready?

  • 100 years ago, the Spanish Flu killed over 50 million people.
  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 80,000 Americans died of the flu last winter.
  • Experts stress that the world needs to take precautions and prepare for the next pandemic.
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Surprising Science

'Aquatic life is bathing in a soup of antidepressants,' says marine biologist

Antidepressants are destroying underwater ecosystems, which we in turn eat.

  • A new British study has discovered that "our aquatic life is bathing in a soup of antidepressants."
  • Entire ecosystems are being negatively affected by our pharmaceutical use.
  • The drugs re-enter our bodies when we consume seafood from these areas.
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Surprising Science

What Are the Biggest Global Threats to Public Health?

Dr. Larry Brilliant played a key role in eradicating smallpox from the world – so what are the biggest dangers humanity faces now? Brilliant rates politics as on-par with infectious disease.

The greatest global threats to health can be divided into two categories, explains epidemiologist and former head of philanthropy at Google, Dr. Larry Brilliant: there is the biological, and the socio-political. In the last 30 years, there have been at least 30 heretofore unknown viruses that have jumped from animals to humans, for worrying reasons Brilliant attributes to modernity and our increase in animal protein consumption. Still, the socio-political threats are the more immediately dangerous. There are centrifugal forces at play that are pushing society to two extreme camps. The domestic and global division caused President Trump’s ‘America First’ mentality and disregard for public health leaves us vulnerable to new viruses that, if they aren’t detected early enough, could be the next pandemic. "Right now because of the re-organization and nationalism… and dislike for the United Nations and its agencies, I think we're in a period of grave vulnerability," says Brilliant. Larry Brilliant is the author of Sometimes Brilliant: The Impossible Adventure of a Spiritual Seeker and Visionary Physician Who Helped Conquer the Worst Disease in History.

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Politics & Current Affairs