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Two new video clips show alleged thylacines

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DieChecker

I'd tend to agree that these videos are too blurry to conclusively say what they animals shown are. Could easily be a fox, or injured dog.

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oldrover
4 hours ago, DieChecker said:

I'd tend to agree that these videos are too blurry to conclusively say what they animals shown are. Could easily be a fox, or injured dog.

They're definitely clear enough to rule out a thylacine though. The first one (left) is obviously a dog, probably an Alsatian or Alsatian cross. You can see the tail clearly. The second is unmistakably a fox, you can even see the white tip to the end of its tail. 

They're poor quality and fleeting, a bit like every photo I've ever taken, even of inanimate objects, but they're clear enough to definitely identify both subjects as canids. 

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DieChecker
34 minutes ago, oldrover said:

They're definitely clear enough to rule out a thylacine though. The first one (left) is obviously a dog, probably an Alsatian or Alsatian cross. You can see the tail clearly. The second is unmistakably a fox, you can even see the white tip to the end of its tail. 

They're poor quality and fleeting, a bit like every photo I've ever taken, even of inanimate objects, but they're clear enough to definitely identify both subjects as canids. 

That's all true, but do you really think those identifications are conclusive? They are very good guesses, but still guesses. :tu::tu:

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oldrover
7 hours ago, DieChecker said:

That's all true, but do you really think those identifications are conclusive? They are very good guesses, but still guesses. :tu::tu:

 

I always think I'm going to keep this short but...

These aren't guesses I'm afraid. In terms of neither being a thylacine I'm a 100%, I really would stake my life on it. Although that's probably me being a bit dramatic, but seriously I'm that sure. There are really clear cues in both those animals that they're both canids and as I say, are 100% not tigers. Here's why.

First thing to do is recall what a tiger really looked like, and why Waters & co claim their animals don't fit this description, by  addressing the claims they've made about there being a mainland sub-species. Firstly, and focusing on reasonably measurable features in these videos, what the tiger looked like.

A long body, grey in colour with a black asymmetric stripe pattern across the back ending always at or on the base of the tail, a light underbelly and white chest patch, with black and white facial marking around the eyes and muzzle. Link to a light protected specimen which gives the true colour of the thylacine.

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_rNMOlewSvvM/TNVgXFrLYRI/AAAAAAAAF_E/rwmiDWXj12I/s400/thy1.png

 

Tigers were higher in the rear than the front, and with short legs in proportion to most canids. Average proportions from Moeller give the ratio of limbs as against 100% being taken as the length of spine between shoulders and pelvis, as fore legs legs 74% in tigers as against 80% in canids, hind legs as 91% against 97% again in tigers and canids respectively.

Not too much you could argue and certainly not enough to make a distinction in one of Waters' wonky videos, and I'd agree, especially as while there aren't any long legged thylacines, there are plenty of domestic and wild canids with a shorter limb to body ratio than a tiger, dachshunds and bush dogs for extreme example.

The crucial measurement though is the length of the metatarsals, and its ratio to the total of hind leg or to the femur. Which tends to suggest quite a lot about the animal and it's behaviour and ecology. 

In tigers this ratio to the whole hind limb is only 13-14% in adults and 15-18% in juveniles. And a ratio of metatarsals to femur length of 38% in juveniles and 32.5% in adults. As against an average of 45% in canids (from a sample of 15 species). Basically tigers had dinky little feet. 

http://www.sheppardsoftware.com/images/Oceania/factfile/Thylacine.jpg

The tail was covered in short hair which was darker on top and light underneath (as in the first link), and ended in an extended black tip, which was formed by the longer hairs of an erectile tail crest used for intraspecific signalling.

The tail, especially the base, also served as a fat store in healthy well nourished animals. Tails were never striped, although as in the link above, they sometimes appear to have been. This though is the result of the vertebrae being visible through the skin and hair, indicating an unhealthy, or poorly nourished individual. Which is why the apparent stripes are seen in so many photos as the only live ones we have are in zoos. 

http://images.mentalfloss.com/sites/default/files/styles/insert_main_wide_image/public/Thylacine_pouch.jpg

The above link shows a female with pouched young and a healthy fat reserve.

This isn't the same thing as the characteristic thickening seen at the base of the tail in males (and sometimes wrongly assumed to be a distinctive feature of all thylacines), that's their genitals. Which are weird. Because as marsupials they're plumed very differently to Eutherians, in that the penis, a) is not used for urination, the urethra and anus are actually located elsewhere in a dorsal vent or false cloaca, and b ) is situated below the scrotum unlike our traditional idea of putting it on top. The scrotum itself was either suspended or at times retracted into a pouch. All of which in male tigers gives their hindquarters a distinctive appearance. 

While there are differences in the hindquarters of the the thylcine to all canids, it's not as extreme in females as some might think. Here's a photo of a fairly young but relatively healthy female in London Zoo showing the tail base in females

http://cdn1.arkive.org/media/2B/2B684324-31CF-4A28-B2DB-FD367DD70F6D/Presentation.Large/Thylacine-with-mouth-agape.jpg

As against a the tail base in a reasonably healthy male

https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-B_3qRtPPYUs/URE7i8KbqhI/AAAAAAAAPU8/R1o_ouI2yAY/s400/thylacine_01.jpg

Lastly, while the tail of a thylacine's movement wasn't anything like as restricted as you'll hear in some places, it was limited compared to a canid. It did, according to anecdote, backed up by photographic evidence, have at least some degree of lateral movement, both at the base and I think perhaps to some extent at least also at the midpoint, and they definitely could rise, lower and flex their tails vertically to some extent. Possibly to a greater extent than laterally. But, not to the extent that a dog can. 

Now, the videos are really poor, but none of these features ( except for the not unusual dark light pattern on the tail of the first animal) are seen here. If either were thylacines you would see at least some of them, whereas what you actually see are features that are seen in canids and are dissimilar to, and exclude, the tiger as being a possible candidate. 

Firstly though Waters has claimed that these videos show a mainland subspecies, and that he's supported in this by a few anonymous palaeontologists and one major Australian museum. He's made many weird and wonderful claims about this 'subspecies', all of which are entirely disputed by everyone I've either spoken to about it or who's opinions on the matter I've read. And believe me they range right across the board of the thylacine community, and not one of them is taking anything he's said seriously. As for the museum in question, I asked them if they were aware he was using their name, and of course they weren't. Categorically stating that neither they nor any member of their staff had ever come out in support of his theory. 

Also, and although there have been many different members of the thylacinidae since the late Oligocene, none except Thylacinus cynocephalus are known to have survived even into the Pleistocene. The last specimen even slightly outside of T. cynocephalus is a partial jaw (I think) from the late Pliocene of New Guinea. And even that's described as similar to them.

Every other Pleistocene and Holocene remains from Tasmania, mainland Australia or New Guinea, of which there are plenty, are all within T. cynocephalus. And no one except Waters is claiming otherwise, and bear in mind he's already been shown to have deliberately lied about having support in this. 

There are even mummified remains of mainland tigers, most complete is this one, also the youngest known from around 3.5 kya*

*Although Paddle argued in 2000 (I think wrongly) that there were reasons to believe a relict population survived into the mid 1800's.

 https://twilightbeasts.files.wordpress.com/2015/08/nullarbor.jpg

 Which clearly shows that in addition to their skeletal anatomy, coat markings were also identical. The yellowish brown colour is the result of fading which the modern mounted and non-light protected specimens also suffer from. Again, contrast the colour on a publicly displayed taxidermy with the light protected skin at the earlier link. 

Lastly, it should be remembered that thylacines in mainland Australia and Tasmania were only isolated from each other for about ten to twelve thousand years. So, we're not talking about two groups which have had enough time to diverge significantly. And while there is a definite and marked size variation across their historical range it's not as clear cut as is sometimes presented. Some of, if not the, largest tiger remains were found on the mainland. 

As to the animals in the video, again I struggle with not having the wherewithal to put up a screen grab but, first animal is definitely a dog.  Alsatian/cross is pushing it a bit I admit, .I do think that's the most likely breed though. You can't really get an idea of limb proportion but the tail tells all. 

You can see the tail is dark on top light on the bottom, and does appear to have a black tip, so that all fits with a tiger, it's too bushy though, although that you might put down to film quality, although I think there's enough detail to argue that it is accurate. But, it's the range of motion which is clearly visible in the video that puts it firmly outside that of a thylacine. At 0:04 you can clearly it's very twisted into a side ward half circle (It's actually easier to just watch the video than try and pause it though) which completely rules out a tiger. But is reminiscent of the way some dogs,particularly Alsatians carry their tails. 

Here's a link to all the known thylacine films

http://www.naturalworlds.org/thylacine/captivity/films/films.htm

So, latest thylacine on the mainland 3.5 kya, the tail is too bushy (arguably), and too flexible (definitely). Are there any other common animals in the area with a tail that match the video more closely? Yes, an Alsatian or very similar breed. 

The second animal is much more clear. Here's a link to a still

https://scontent.fbrs1-1.fna.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-0/q87/p320x320/15055755_1190949694277207_1863891880332388721_n.jpg?oh=80ae59b796e58f21be842f1bcbbf47f6&oe=58EBA283

Aside from the fact that the animal is obviously a fox. I think the metatarsals definitely look too long for a tiger, but again, realistically the video isn't clear enough to tell. What we do see though is a long bushy tail, with, by Waters' own admission, a white tip. The tail is thicker at the base, as you may well expect to see on a tiger, but that's also characteristic of the fox, and it's also too thick at the tip. It is far too thick and too uniform to be a thylacine's tail, It's clearly a fox's brush. No tiger is known to have a white tail tip, they were all black, but again there is a common animal in that area that does, the fox.

And at around 1:10 it's clear to see that the animal lacks the heavy black markings across its back common to all thylacines. I think there's enough detail in one or two of the frames to make out the distinctive shape of a fox's hind leg, but not with enough clarity to go on about it, I'd be afraid I'd start sounding a bit PG film if I did.

So, these animals based on what you can see of then, lack any of the features you'd expect to see on a thylacine, but have exactly the characteristics you'd expect to see in a canid. Tigers are unknown on the Australian mainland for the last three thousand years, yet the animals that do correspond to those in the video are known to exist there in significant numbers. 

Edited by oldrover
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DieChecker
19 hours ago, oldrover said:

 

I always think I'm going to keep this short but...

These aren't guesses I'm afraid. In terms of neither being a thylacine I'm a 100%, I really would stake my life on it. Although that's probably me being a bit dramatic, but seriously I'm that sure. There are really clear cues in both those animals that they're both canids and as I say, are 100% not tigers. Here's why.

First thing to do is recall what a tiger really looked like, and why Waters & co claim their animals don't fit this description, by  addressing the claims they've made about there being a mainland sub-species. Firstly, and focusing on reasonably measurable features in these videos, what the tiger looked like.

A long body, grey in colour with a black asymmetric stripe pattern across the back ending always at or on the base of the tail, a light underbelly and white chest patch, with black and white facial marking around the eyes and muzzle. Link to a light protected specimen which gives the true colour of the thylacine.

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_rNMOlewSvvM/TNVgXFrLYRI/AAAAAAAAF_E/rwmiDWXj12I/s400/thy1.png

 

Tigers were higher in the rear than the front, and with short legs in proportion to most canids. Average proportions from Moeller give the ratio of limbs as against 100% being taken as the length of spine between shoulders and pelvis, as fore legs legs 74% in tigers as against 80% in canids, hind legs as 91% against 97% again in tigers and canids respectively.

Not too much you could argue and certainly not enough to make a distinction in one of Waters' wonky videos, and I'd agree, especially as while there aren't any long legged thylacines, there are plenty of domestic and wild canids with a shorter limb to body ratio than a tiger, dachshunds and bush dogs for extreme example.

The crucial measurement though is the length of the metatarsals, and its ratio to the total of hind leg or to the femur. Which tends to suggest quite a lot about the animal and it's behaviour and ecology. 

In tigers this ratio to the whole hind limb is only 13-14% in adults and 15-18% in juveniles. And a ratio of metatarsals to femur length of 38% in juveniles and 32.5% in adults. As against an average of 45% in canids (from a sample of 15 species). Basically tigers had dinky little feet. 

http://www.sheppardsoftware.com/images/Oceania/factfile/Thylacine.jpg

The tail was covered in short hair which was darker on top and light underneath (as in the first link), and ended in an extended black tip, which was formed by the longer hairs of an erectile tail crest used for intraspecific signalling.

The tail, especially the base, also served as a fat store in healthy well nourished animals. Tails were never striped, although as in the link above, they sometimes appear to have been. This though is the result of the vertebrae being visible through the skin and hair, indicating an unhealthy, or poorly nourished individual. Which is why the apparent stripes are seen in so many photos as the only live ones we have are in zoos. 

http://images.mentalfloss.com/sites/default/files/styles/insert_main_wide_image/public/Thylacine_pouch.jpg

The above link shows a female with pouched young and a healthy fat reserve.

This isn't the same thing as the characteristic thickening seen at the base of the tail in males (and sometimes wrongly assumed to be a distinctive feature of all thylacines), that's their genitals. Which are weird. Because as marsupials they're plumed very differently to Eutherians, in that the penis, a) is not used for urination, the urethra and anus are actually located elsewhere in a dorsal vent or false cloaca, and b ) is situated below the scrotum unlike our traditional idea of putting it on top. The scrotum itself was either suspended or at times retracted into a pouch. All of which in male tigers gives their hindquarters a distinctive appearance. 

While there are differences in the hindquarters of the the thylcine to all canids, it's not as extreme in females as some might think. Here's a photo of a fairly young but relatively healthy female in London Zoo showing the tail base in females

http://cdn1.arkive.org/media/2B/2B684324-31CF-4A28-B2DB-FD367DD70F6D/Presentation.Large/Thylacine-with-mouth-agape.jpg

As against a the tail base in a reasonably healthy male

https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-B_3qRtPPYUs/URE7i8KbqhI/AAAAAAAAPU8/R1o_ouI2yAY/s400/thylacine_01.jpg

Lastly, while the tail of a thylacine's movement wasn't anything like as restricted as you'll hear in some places, it was limited compared to a canid. It did, according to anecdote, backed up by photographic evidence, have at least some degree of lateral movement, both at the base and I think perhaps to some extent at least also at the midpoint, and they definitely could rise, lower and flex their tails vertically to some extent. Possibly to a greater extent than laterally. But, not to the extent that a dog can. 

Now, the videos are really poor, but none of these features ( except for the not unusual dark light pattern on the tail of the first animal) are seen here. If either were thylacines you would see at least some of them, whereas what you actually see are features that are seen in canids and are dissimilar to, and exclude, the tiger as being a possible candidate. 

Firstly though Waters has claimed that these videos show a mainland subspecies, and that he's supported in this by a few anonymous palaeontologists and one major Australian museum. He's made many weird and wonderful claims about this 'subspecies', all of which are entirely disputed by everyone I've either spoken to about it or who's opinions on the matter I've read. And believe me they range right across the board of the thylacine community, and not one of them is taking anything he's said seriously. As for the museum in question, I asked them if they were aware he was using their name, and of course they weren't. Categorically stating that neither they nor any member of their staff had ever come out in support of his theory. 

Also, and although there have been many different members of the thylacinidae since the late Oligocene, none except Thylacinus cynocephalus are known to have survived even into the Pleistocene. The last specimen even slightly outside of T. cynocephalus is a partial jaw (I think) from the late Pliocene of New Guinea. And even that's described as similar to them.

Every other Pleistocene and Holocene remains from Tasmania, mainland Australia or New Guinea, of which there are plenty, are all within T. cynocephalus. And no one except Waters is claiming otherwise, and bear in mind he's already been shown to have deliberately lied about having support in this. 

There are even mummified remains of mainland tigers, most complete is this one, also the youngest known from around 3.5 kya*

*Although Paddle argued in 2000 (I think wrongly) that there were reasons to believe a relict population survived into the mid 1800's.

 https://twilightbeasts.files.wordpress.com/2015/08/nullarbor.jpg

 Which clearly shows that in addition to their skeletal anatomy, coat markings were also identical. The yellowish brown colour is the result of fading which the modern mounted and non-light protected specimens also suffer from. Again, contrast the colour on a publicly displayed taxidermy with the light protected skin at the earlier link. 

Lastly, it should be remembered that thylacines in mainland Australia and Tasmania were only isolated from each other for about ten to twelve thousand years. So, we're not talking about two groups which have had enough time to diverge significantly. And while there is a definite and marked size variation across their historical range it's not as clear cut as is sometimes presented. Some of, if not the, largest tiger remains were found on the mainland. 

As to the animals in the video, again I struggle with not having the wherewithal to put up a screen grab but, first animal is definitely a dog.  Alsatian/cross is pushing it a bit I admit, .I do think that's the most likely breed though. You can't really get an idea of limb proportion but the tail tells all. 

You can see the tail is dark on top light on the bottom, and does appear to have a black tip, so that all fits with a tiger, it's too bushy though, although that you might put down to film quality, although I think there's enough detail to argue that it is accurate. But, it's the range of motion which is clearly visible in the video that puts it firmly outside that of a thylacine. At 0:04 you can clearly it's very twisted into a side ward half circle (It's actually easier to just watch the video than try and pause it though) which completely rules out a tiger. But is reminiscent of the way some dogs,particularly Alsatians carry their tails. 

Here's a link to all the known thylacine films

http://www.naturalworlds.org/thylacine/captivity/films/films.htm

So, latest thylacine on the mainland 3.5 kya, the tail is too bushy (arguably), and too flexible (definitely). Are there any other common animals in the area with a tail that match the video more closely? Yes, an Alsatian or very similar breed. 

The second animal is much more clear. Here's a link to a still

https://scontent.fbrs1-1.fna.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-0/q87/p320x320/15055755_1190949694277207_1863891880332388721_n.jpg?oh=80ae59b796e58f21be842f1bcbbf47f6&oe=58EBA283

Aside from the fact that the animal is obviously a fox. I think the metatarsals definitely look too long for a tiger, but again, realistically the video isn't clear enough to tell. What we do see though is a long bushy tail, with, by Waters' own admission, a white tip. The tail is thicker at the base, as you may well expect to see on a tiger, but that's also characteristic of the fox, and it's also too thick at the tip. It is far too thick and too uniform to be a thylacine's tail, It's clearly a fox's brush. No tiger is known to have a white tail tip, they were all black, but again there is a common animal in that area that does, the fox.

And at around 1:10 it's clear to see that the animal lacks the heavy black markings across its back common to all thylacines. I think there's enough detail in one or two of the frames to make out the distinctive shape of a fox's hind leg, but not with enough clarity to go on about it, I'd be afraid I'd start sounding a bit PG film if I did.

So, these animals based on what you can see of then, lack any of the features you'd expect to see on a thylacine, but have exactly the characteristics you'd expect to see in a canid. Tigers are unknown on the Australian mainland for the last three thousand years, yet the animals that do correspond to those in the video are known to exist there in significant numbers. 

After all that I think you misunderstood me. I'm agreeing they are not thylacines. I meant to question how sure your identification of the two creatures as an Alsatian and a fox. Like you just said, "realistically the video isn't clear enough to tell", and "but not with enough clarity to go on about it".

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oldrover
25 minutes ago, DieChecker said:

After all that I think you misunderstood me. I'm agreeing they are not thylacines. I meant to question how sure your identification of the two creatures as an Alsatian and a fox. Like you just said, "realistically the video isn't clear enough to tell", and "but not with enough clarity to go on about it".

I see, sorry. Well the first one for the reasons above. The second is because it is obviously a fox. I can't see any ambiguity there at all. 

It's the fox shaped head body and tail supported by four fox shaped legs that's the clincher for me really.

Edited by oldrover
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