Secret population of Tasmanian devils discovered in remote forest

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The Tasmanian devil, brought to the brink of extinction in recent years due to a fatal, highly contagious disease, may yet recover thanks to the discovery of an isolated population in the island state’s remote southwest.

While the researchers didn’t actually lay eyes on the animals, they did discover quantities of feces in a heavily forested World Heritage area. When analyzed, the stool revealed nine completely new genetic variants for the devil, a boon for conservationists attempting to help captive populations improve their chances for survival.

“For us this is massive,” Sydney University geneticist Kathy Belov told the Sydney Morning Herald. “For years we have been calling devils clones because there’s so little diversity, and now we find that there is diversity out there, it’s just in remote areas.”

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