Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Thylacine (Thylacinus cynocephalus) was a large carnivorous marsupial native to Australia. In the early days of European settlement it was known as the Tasmanian Tiger or Tasmanian Wolf. Being a marsupial that is not feline nor lupoid in nature, the more appropriate terminology is (Tasmanian) Marsupial-Wolf
In late Pleistocene and early Holocene times, the Thylacine was widespread on the mainland. After traders from the islands to the north of the continent introduced the Dingo about five thousand years ago, the Thylacine was unable to compete and the population dwindled. It is uncertain when the last mainland Thylacine died, but it may not have been until perhaps a thousand years or so ago.
In outward appearance, the Thylacine resembled a large, short-haired dog with a stiff tail, which smoothly extended from the body like that of a kangaroo; several stripes ordered vertically across its hindquarters; and an amazingly large gape. The Thylacine's pouch opened to the rear of its body. The structure of the thylacine spine undergoes a sudden transition about halfway along the body.
In Tasmania, where there were no Dingos, the Thylacine survived until the 1930s before persecution by farmers, government-funded bounty hunters and, in the final years, collectors for overseas museums saw it wiped out. The last confirmed wild Thylacine sighting was in 1932, and the last captive, named Benjamin, died in the Hobart Zoo on September 6,1936. A short black and white film was made of the captive pacing back and forth in its enclosure.
In February 2005, a German tourist claimed to have taken digital photographs of Thylacine, but the authenticity of the photographs is yet to be established.
In March, 2005, an Australian magazine - The Bulletin as part of its 125th anniversary, offered a reward of $1.25 million for the safe capture of a live Tasmanian Tiger. The prize offer was to close in June 2005. As of writing there have been no reported successful claims.
The Australian Museum in Sydney began a project in 1999 reminiscent of the science fiction movie Jurassic Park. The goal is to use genetic material from specimens taken and preserved in the early 20th century to clone new individuals and revive the species from extinction. In late 2002 the researchers had some success as they were able to extract usable DNA from the specimens. On February 15 2005 the museum announced that it was stopping the project after tests showed the specimens' DNA had been too badly degraded by the (ethanol) preservative.
- The Thylacine Museum is an online reference guide to the thylacine.
- Carnivorous Nights has thylacine news and information
- Magnificent Survivor - The continued existence of the Tasmanian Tiger
- Cloning project
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