Puparazzi: Thylacine

Photo Australia Geographic

The Thylacine, or “marsupial wolf” or “Tasmanian Tiger” was native to Australia, Tasmania and New Guinea until it became extinct in 1936 due to hunting and human encroachment. It was similar to a large dog with a stiff tail much like a Kangaroo’s and weighed around 20-30kgs.

A nocturnal hunter, the Thylacine spent most days under cover. Though the Melbourne Zoo and the Hobart Zoo attempted to keep the species alive, they were never successful at breeding in captivity.

The thylacine was one of only two marsupials to have a pouch in both sexes (the other being the water opossum). The male thylacine had a pouch that acted as a protective sheath, covering the male’s external reproductive organs while he ran through thick brush. *

Rock art depicting the Tasmanian Tiger has been found as far back as 1000BC in places such as Dampier Rock Art Precinct in Western Australia.

Thylacine Sightings in Tasmania, Courtesy of Wikipedia

Modern sightings of the Tasmanian Tiger are often reported, the most recent being in 2005 with inconclusive photographic evidence. Several expeditions have been mounted to try and find the Tasmanian Tiger, but none successful. In 1983, Ted Turner offered $100,000 to anyone who could prove the Thylacine still existed – it was never claimed. Currently, there is a $1.25 million reward for proof (not capture).

Researchers from the University of Melbourne and the University of Texas are working together to extract DNA from Thylacine fossils to clone the marsupial in hopes of restoring it from extinction.

Check out more extinct animals of Australia.

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