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Sympathy for the devil [Book reviewed : "Tasmanian Devil: A Unique and Threatened Animal" by David Owen and David Pemberton]

By Matthew J. Phillips


Two representations have dominated public perceptions of the largest living marsupial carnivore, the Tasmanian devil. One is the voracious, hurricane-like innocent savage Taz of Looney Tunes cartoon fame. The other, familiar in nineteenth- and twentieth-century rural Tasmania, is the ferocious predator and scavenger that wantonly kills livestock — and perhaps even people, should they become immobilized in the wilderness at night. Devils can take prey nearly three times their size and eat more than a third of their body weight in a sitting. Even so, it is hard to imagine how this species, being only slightly larger than a fox terrier, could be so maligned in name and image..

Topics: 060000 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES, marsupial carnivore, Tasmanian devil
Publisher: Nature Publishing Group
Year: 2006
DOI identifier: 10.1038/4401115a
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