The Thylacine (Thylacinus cynocephalus) was a large carnivorous marsupial that was also known as the Marsupial Wolf, Tasmanian Wolf and Tasmanian Tiger. It was the last of an extinct family known as Thylacinidae. The last captive adult thylacine resided in Hobart Zoo and was named 'Benjamin' (although sex was never 100% determined). Benjamin died on the 7th of September 1936, the last wild specimen was believed to have been killed by a farmer around 1930.
HABITAT AND DISTRIBUTION
The 'Tassie Tiger' once lived in Australia, Tasmania and Papua New Guinea (although it disappeared from the mainland around 2000 years ago), where it could be found around forests, grasslands and wetlands.
Top image accredited to David Seth-Smith courtesy of the Zoological Society of London. The image below is courtesy of the US National Zoological Park.
Fox-like in appearance, the thylacine had a large muscular jaw capable of opening up to about 80 degrees (sometimes erroneously reported as up to 120 degrees) and a long, slender body. The coat was yellow-brown in colour with black stripes along the hindquarters and tail, and a cream-coloured underbelly. The thylacine averaged a length of around 1.0 - 1.3m including its tail, and a shoulder height of around 60cm.
DIET, BEHAVIOUR AND REPRODUCTION
The thylacines diet consisted of large and small mammals (marsupials such as wallabies and wombats) and birds. The appearance of European settlers with their farms was too great a temptation, and unfortunately the thylacine began killing livestock, therefore a bounty was put upon its head. An eradication program was set up and thylacines were hunted relentlessly. It is suggested that the wild specimen, shown above, was actually a taxidermy specimen (with the bird placed in its mouth), set up to encourage the trapping and killing of the thylacine. Although other images shown on the Thylacine Museums Burrell's Photographs page suggest otherwise. Other threats included competition from invasive species like the Dingo. The thylacine gave birth to up to 4 young but usually 2 - 3.
OTHER NOTABLE FACTS
The thylacines name translates as 'dog-headed pouched one', which is rather fitting as unusually both male and female had a pouch. It spent its day hidden away and would come out at night to hunt its prey. This species had a life expectancy of 7 years in the wild, and up to 9 years in captivity.
The colour photograph above was supplied courtesy of Random Rupert
The thylacine is listed by the IUCN as Extinct, although reports come in every year of possible sightings. Unfortunately no concrete proof has ever been supplied to support their continued existence.
The following videos of thylacines are available on You-Tube from the Thylacine Museum. The museum has kindly allowed us to embed these videos on our page from their You-Tube channel (TheThylacineVideos). For further information please follow the link above to the Thylacine Museum, here you will find many historical stories, reports and even more photographs of the incredible thylacine.