Young tasmanian devil moms

A deadly epidemic pushes Tasmanian devils to mate at a younger age.

By Tia Ghose, 10:47 AM July 15, 2008

Tasmanian devils are mating earlier in response to a deadly, contagious cancer, a new study reports. The findings, appearing online July 14 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, are among the first to show mammals adjusting mating behavior in response to an infectious agent.

“There has been a sudden increase in the proportion of females that breed in their first year of life as subadults,” says lead author Menna Jones, a zoologist at the University of Tasmania in Hobart, ...

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