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Monday, June 6, 2016

The Sad Tale of the Tasmanian Tiger



          

The Thylacine is a large carnivorous marsupial now believed to be extinct, or at least extant (hoping for the later). The only member of the family Thylacinidae to survive into modern times

     Although commonly called the Tasmanian Tiger or Tasmanian Wolf, the thylacine has more in common with its marsupial cousin the Tasmanian Devil. With a head like a wolf, striped body like a tiger and backward facing pouch like a wombat, the thylacine was as unbelievable as the platypus which had caused disbelief and uproar in Europe when it was first described.

The female produces up to four young who are dependent on the mother until at least half-grown. Interestingly, males also had a back-opening, partial pouch in which they keep  the "family jewels" safe from harm and temperature fluctuation.





 





Aboriginal rock-paintings of Thylacine-like animals have been found on walls or overhangs of exposed rock surfaces. At one time, they roamed freely in Australia, extending north to New Guinea and south to Tasmania. In recent times they were confined to Tasmania where their presence has not been established conclusively for more than seventy years. Introduction of sheep to Australia resulted in bounty hunting, and along with the introduction of dingoes and man, the entire population of Thylacines was tragically killed off. 

      Carnivores, and relentless hunters, they supposedly made a husky barking sound or a loud yap when anxious or excited. With their back legs slightly longer than their front legs, they had an awkward way of moving, trotting stiffly. They have no webbing between toes, and at times they stood upright with their front legs in the air, resting their hind legs on the ground using the tail as a support, exactly the way a kangaroo does.They were even known to hop for short distances in this position.  

On 7 September 1936, the last known Tasmanian Tiger died in captivity in the Hobart Zoo. Sightings since then have been proclaimed but not substantiated. Too bad they killed off the animal in their own coat of arms....

   Tasmanian coat of arms 



                                 

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