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Thylacine Skeleton of a Tasmanian Tiger

National Museum of Australia - Joy of Museums - Thylacine Skeleton

Thylacine Skeleton – Tasmanian Tiger

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.

The Thylacine was a shy, nocturnal creäture 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 years ago, but it survived on the island of Tasmania, until 83 years ago. Intensive hunting encouraged by government bounties is 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 59 days later.

Thylacines

Thylacines at the Beaumaris Zoo in Hobart, 1910

Tasmanian Tiger – Animal Facts

  • In 1936, Tasmania’s Government officially listed the Tasmanian Tiger as a protected species, 59 days later the last known Tasmanian Tiger died. Scores of years too late.
  • Multiple factors led to the eventual extinction of the Tasmanian Tiger, including competition with wild dogs introduced by European settlers, erosion of its habitat, the concurrent extinction of prey species, and a disease that affected most of the captive specimens at the time.
  • The Tasmanian Tiger like Bigfoot and the Loch Ness monster has had thousands of unconfirmed reported sightings since it was declared extinct.
  • The thylacine was nicknamed the “Tasmanian tiger” or the “Tasmanian wolf” because it shared a surprising number of features of these two combinations of animals. However, the thylacine was a marsupial and only distantly related to cats and dogs. These carnivores evolved independently, but with similar features, this phenomenon of near-identical traits appearing in two unrelated organisms is known as “convergent evolution”.
  • The Tasmanian Tiger predominantly hunted at night, and their prey included kangaroos, small mammals and birds. Research on thylacine skeletons suggests that they evolved as ambush predators.

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Reflections

  • The animal was officially listed as a protected species, 59 days before it became extinct. Any lessons in that?

Thylacine Skeleton (Tasmanian Tiger)

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

Explore Aboriginal Artifacts and Stories

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

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Photo Credit:GM2) 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

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