Friday, September 2, 2011

Tasmanian Tiger Hunted to Extinction For No Good Reason

Add another layer of depressing to the story of the Tassie Tiger:

The thylacine (Thylacinus cynocephalus), better known as the Tasmanian tiger, has long been the poster child for human-caused extinction. Hunted out of existence by Australian farmers who feared that the striped, canine-like marsupials would kill their sheep, the last thylacine died in captivity in Hobart Zoo 75 years ago next week, on September 7, 1936 (although the species was not officially declared extinct until about 25 years ago).

Now, just a few days before the annual observance of National Thylacine Day in Australia, a new study reveals that the predator was probably not a threat to sheep after all. Its notably long jaw (one of the animal’s most distinctive features) could open to an amazing 120 degrees but was too weak to kill sheep, according to a study published September 1 in the Journal of Zoology.

Great. (The 120° claim is a commonly repeated myth, I've read, just to note. They could open their mouths very wide, maybe to near 80°.)

Look at this beautiful animal, a marsupial dog:

That's video of the very last one ever known to exist.



  1. Wow. Sad story. Reminds of the needless extinction of the only species of flightless wren which was eliminated by a single cat. The cat was owned by the lighthouse keeper on the only island in the world where this little bird lived. We are so stupid sometimes...

  2. And some stupid is so much sadder than others.