Tasmanian Tigers Are Extinct, So Why Are Locals Reporting Sightings?

Daisy Hernandez
Photo credit: John Carnemolla - Getty Images

From Popular Mechanics

  • The Australian government recently released a list of documented thylacine—also known as the Tasmanian tiger or Tasmanian wolf—sightings.
  • The thylacine was thought to be extinct for the past eight decades and has yet to be officially spotted since the last one in captivity died in the early 1930s.
  • It remains to be seen whether or not any reported thylacine sightings will be made official—something made especially difficult with no photographic proof or other hard evidence.
  • If the creatures are extinct, there may still be hope to see a living thylacine as scientists have replicated their DNA and may one day be able to use the genetic material to clone the animal.

Various reported sightings may be the key to finding the thought-to-be-extinct Tasmanian tiger, formally known as Thylacinus cynocephalus or, the thylacine.

According to CNN, an official document was recently released by the Australian government detailing eight thylacine sightings beginning in September 2016 through September of this year.

If the sightings are indeed accurate, then thylacines can add another skill to their résumés: masters of mystery and concealment considering that the last known living Tasmanian tiger died in captivity in the fall of 1936.

Photo credit: Topical Press Agency - Getty Images

Native to the island state of Tasmania, thylacines have earned near mythical status as they remain to be officially documented but are constantly being seen by Tasmanian locals and visitors alike.

Thylacines look like a mix between a large cat and medium sized dog with fur that varies between a yellowish tan and plain brown. The creatures are carnivores with strong jaws and both males and females have a pouch in which they hold their babies, like other marsupials like the kangaroo.

Although there is no official reason for the extinction of the thylacine, it's likely that their numbers dwindled after being extensively hunted by humans and dealing with increased competition from a growing dingo population.

If it turns out that thylacines actually have gone extinct, there's still hope for those who wish to see one; the Australian Museum replicated thylacine DNA back in 2002, making it potentially possible to bring the mysterious creature back to life.

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