Ancient parasitic cancer

From Wired, an article about a parasitic cancer that’s been spreading among dogs all over the planet for 6,000 years.

High in the Himalayas, a heavy-coated dog trots behind the hem of a Buddhist monk’s robes. On the streets of Panama City, another dog collapses into a sliver of shade, escaping the heat of the midday sun. On their bodies a cancer grows. Their tumors each appear unique—their swollen, crumbling contours flush with fresh blood vessels emerging from beneath a tail here or between the legs there. But the cells dividing inside each one, continents apart, are actually the same organism. If you can call a clump of 6,000-year-old cancer cells an organism.

This thing is more like a parasite than a cancer, and interestingly it’s not that harmful to the dogs who have it – the longer they live, the longer it lives. Fascinating what turns up in nature’s endless race to find the best survival strategies.

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