Thylacinus Cynocephalus (Dog-Headed Pouched One); also known as the Tasmanian Tiger, or the Tasmanian Wolf, the largest known carnivorous marsupial of modern times.
Native to continental Australia, Tasmania and New Guinea, it is thought to have become extinct in the 20th century. It was the last extant member of its family, Thylacinidae; specimens of other members of the family have been found in the fossil record dating back to the early Miocene.
The Thylacine had become extremely rare or extinct on the Australian mainland before British settlement of the continent, but it survived on the island of Tasmania along with several other endemic species, including the Tasmanian devil. Intensive hunting encouraged by bounties is generally blamed for its extinction, but other contributing factors may have been disease, the introduction of dogs, and human encroachment into its habitat. Despite its official classification as extinct, sightings are still reported, though none have been conclusively proven.
Congratulations to urbanmongoose for being the first to correctly identify Friday’s Freak of the Week as being a Thylacine! For those of you who aren’t sure what a thylacine is, it is an extinct carnivorous marsupial. Unfortunately we don’t have a genuine thylacine skull in the collections, but the one photographed is an extremely realistic cast from Bone Clones. Today I thought I would show you guys the morphological similarities and differences between the thylacine, a grey wolf (Canis lupus), and a kangaroo (Macropus sp.). I am so fascinated by convergent evolution! I don’t think there’s any denying that the skull of a thylacine more closely resembles that of a canid, rather than a species in its own taxonomic class. It really is a shame that we no longer have these amazingly unique creatures roaming the wilds of Australia!
A Thylacine! I (blog owner) personally have a tattoo of one of these guys I like them so much.
It went extinct in 1936. In the show, Richard Dawkins says it probably went extinct because of the introduction of the dingo, which out-competed it, but in reality it was mostly hunted to death by settlers, which is kind of the same thing, just a different “invasive species”! It was too good at hunting the farmer’s livestock and so the government allowed them to be systematically culled right up until there were very few left.
“The $55,000 search to find a Tasmanian tiger” - The Australian Women’s Weekly, 24 September 1980
This article contains an interview with an elderly Wilfred “Wilf” Batty, the man who is now famous for killing the last wild thylacine in 1930. It reads as follows:
“Fifty years ago Wilf Batty’s shotgun blast started a legend. His target was what people thought was the last Tasmanian tiger in the wild. After that the tiger, or Thylacine, disappeared into the realms of fantasy and folklore.
But has it really disappeared? Reports of sightings of the yellowish, wolf-like animal with dark stripes across its back are increasing. Findings of footprints and fur proliferate.
The Weekly tracked down Wilf Batty. Now 79, he lives in Tasmania’s north coast town of Wynyard. Was he really the man who shot the last Tasmanian tiger?
“Aye,” he said in pure north English accent. “Aye, I shot tiger. He were killing poultry.”
The date: May 6, 1930. The place: Mawbanna, Wilf’s property in north-west Tasmania. The time: noon. It was the first and last Tasmanian tiger Wilf ever saw.
Wilf tried to hold the tiger by the tail, but it swung him off balance and jumped a two-metre fence. Then he raised his double-barrelled gun and shot.
“Only one shot,” he said. “One shot int’ shoulder. He lived full 20 minutes after. People came from all about to look. Teeth he had as could go right through a man’s wrist.
"I sold tiger for 5 pounds to Tiger Harrison, of Wynyard, who sold him to Hobart Museum for stuffing, who sent him ont’ tour of Australia, and I haven’t heard since where tiger is.”
Wilf believes the Thylacine (the last captive tiger died in Hobart Zoo in 1933) became extinct, not because of bounties and hunts but because of distemper it caught from imported dogs.“
The Ghost of Tasmania: The Thylacine, also known as Tasmanian Tiger or Wolf was the last member of its genus and the largest carnivorous marsupial of its time. The last individual died in 1933 in a zoo and marked the end of a creature driven to extinction on the basis of false accusations of slaughtering lifestock. Let us cherish the natural world in honour of Tasmania’s ghost.