The Continued Existence of Thylacines

In the wilds of the outback of Australia and Tasmania it is rumored that a dog-like creature exists. It is said to be perhaps 6 feet long and weighs in at as much as 45 pounds. This creature has stripes on its back and a pouch for its young. It walks on all fours, like a dog, and is carnivorous, again like a dog. This critter has a huge mouth that opens to an extreme 120 degrees! Although our Thylacine had 5 toes on its front paws, there were only 4 digits on its hind feet.

Mr. Thylacine had an awkward gate. This meant that he could not run very fast at all. But Thylacines did have an ability not usually associated with an animal of this nature; it could hop on its back legs. This was observed while the animal was in captivity.

Thylacines, also commonly referred to as the Tasmanian tiger because of the stripes on his back, were thought to be extinct in Australia when the first Europeans arrived on that far off island. However, the Tassie Tiger was still going strong on the smaller island of Tasmania. It is generally on Tasmania that the Tiger is currently thought to continue to reside but there are also a few sightings on the Aussie mainland every now and again.

Although officially declared extinct in 1986, most experts tend to agree that the last Tiger to die was a sad and lonely specimen at the Hobart Zoo that they had named Benjamin. Benjamin was captured and sold to the Zoo in about 1933 but he only survived 3 years in captivity. Thylacines never had the ability to bond in any way with their caretakers and well Benjamin was totally alone, there was no Mrs. Thylacine for him to cuddle with.

Shortly after the death of Benjamin the rumors of the existence of more Thylacines began to surface. These sightings were never confirmed by any government agency that was sent out to investigate them. These sightings were not just from Tasmania but from Australia as well. This might speak to the veracity of the sightings but it just as well might not. What have people been seeing?

Even after it was declared officially extinct in 1986, the reports kept from coming in from the public. There was even an interesting report from a conservation officer who was napping in his car and was awakened to see a Tassy Tiger about 20 feet away from him. This happened in 1982. Since then there have been reported sightings but nothing concrete.

Some folks are convinced that they will find a Tassy Tiger sooner or later. They look at other animals that have recently been found in other parts of the world as an example of what can be found. So sensor controlled cameras have been set up in the kinds of remote areas that is assumed to be a good habitat for the Thylacine. Trackers have gone out looking for tracks but nothing has been reported that convinces the powers that be that this animal still exists.

If folks are not seeing a Thylacine then what are they seeing? At look at the fauna of Tasmania shows there is not much else that fits the description of a tassy. Could the Tasmanian Tiger have never been extinct after all? We’ll have to just have a wee bit of patience to see if one gets discovered shortly. Or perhaps some scientist will clone one from some remaining Thylacine DNA. Interesting thought.