Wild Fact #720 – Nice Doggie – Tasmanian Tiger

Photo by: E.J. Keller

This week of Wild Facts will be different and exciting.  Hey, wait a minute, aren’t all the Wild Facts exciting? Anyways, I will be working in the field for the majority of the week so I won’t have Internet access.  As usual, when I am away I like to make up a theme for the week.  So, welcome to Wild Facts – EXTINCTION! That’s right, I have decided that extinct animals are important as well so I am dedicating a full week to the unique animals of the past.  I want to make sure you are interested so I am going to start it all off with the Tasmanian Tiger.

The Tasmanian Tiger is actually called the Thylacine but I just love their common name so much that I am sticking with it.  Other names for this incredible creature are the Tasmanian Wolf and the Tassie Tiger.  The Tasmanian Tiger naturally lived in Australia and on the island state of Tasmania.  Although they may have a similar appearance to tigers or wolves this extinct animal was not related.  In fact, their closest relative is thought to be the Tasmanian Devil or the Numbat.

As you can imagine from the pictures the Thylacine was a predator at the top of the food chain.  This carnivore would feed on kangaroos, wombats, birds, wallabies, possums among other Australian animals.  I guess this would be a good as time as any to describe this predator to you.  Well, the thing I find most interesting about them is the fact that they were marsupials.  This was indeed a predator that had a pouch for their young and is thought to be the largest marsupial predator to have lived in recent times.  Unlike most pouch-bearing animals both the female and the male had a pouch.  The male didn’t carry little babies in his pouch though as it simply acted as a protective layer for his vital organs.

Last known Thylacine photographed (1933) - Wikimedia

This dog-like animal was about 1 m (3′) long with a tail length adding an extra 50-65 cm (1.6-2.1′) to their dimensions.  Their teeth were very similar to the various dog species while their feet were padded.  The pouch of the female was at the base of her tail while the males was protecting his organs.  It must be great having a pouch on you at all times.  You would always know where to look for your loose change.

I guess before we go we need to discuss why the Tasmanian Tiger no longer exists on this planet.  The first major blow to their population was the sudden competition with the exotic dingo, which was brought over by aborigines.  Once the European settlers came over the Tasmanian Tiger was doomed due to bounty hunting, habitat destruction and competition with domestic dogs.  I am going to leave this Wild Fact with some mystery and intrigue.  There have been numerous sightings of the Thylacine, however, most of these seem comparable to the famous sightings of the Loch Ness or Big Foot.  As well, there is an ongoing project to clone this extinct animal from some recovered DNA.   At the end of the day, we may just get to catch a glimpse of this unique marsupial.

Well that does it for today but please make sure you tune into tomorrow for a BIG Wild Fact – Extinction.

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