The Joy of Museums

Finding Meaning in a Museum

Thylacine Skeleton (Tasmanian Tiger)

National Museum of Australia - Joy of Museums - Thylacine Skeleton

This Thylacine Skeleton represents an extinct species that became extinct in 1936. The thylacine, (Greek for “dog-headed, pouched-one”) was the largest known carnivorous marsupial of modern times. It was the last surviving member of its family. It is commonly known as the Tasmanian Tiger because of its striped lower back.

Thylacines

Thylacines at the Beaumaris Zoo in Hobart, 1910

The Thylacine was a shy, nocturnal creature with the general appearance of a medium size dog, except for its stiff tail and abdominal pouch (reminiscent of a kangaroo) and dark transverse stripes that radiated from the top of its back, similar to those of a tiger.

The Thylacine had become extinct on the Australian mainland 2,000 year ago, but it survived on the island of Tasmania. Intensive hunting encouraged by government bounties are blamed for its extinction. From 1886 to 1909 the Tasmanian Government paid one pound for every Thylacine killed. A sharp drop in bounty payments between 1908 and 1909 suggests that the Thylacine suffered from some widespread disease. They were not declared “protected” until 1936, just before the last one died in captivity in 1936.

Below is a video of a live Thylacine: Consisting of all known Australian footage of live Thylacines, shot in Hobart Zoo, Tasmania, in 1911, 1928, and 1933. Two other films were shot in London Zoo.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AThylacine_footage_compilation.ogv?embedplayer=yes

Other historical objects from the National Museum of Australia, featured in “Joy of Museums include the following are some highlights:

Essential Facts:

  • Title:                          Thylacine Skeleton
  • Dates:                        1920s
  • Date of Extinction: 1936
  • Museum:                   National Museum of Australia

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“The more you know, the less you need.” -Australian Aboriginal saying

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Photo Credit: By GordonMakryllos (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons 2) See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons 3) By Unknown – http://www.naa.gov.au/whats-on/online/pic-of-the-week/pow_36_enlargement.aspx, Public Domain, Link