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Creatures, Myths & Legends

Thylacine survival odds are 1 in 1.6 trillion

By T.K. Randall
April 19, 2017 · Comment icon 38 comments

The odds are not looking pretty. Image Credit: Benjamin A. Sheppard
A new study has cast further doubt on the possibility that the Tasmanian tiger has survived in the wild.
One of the best known recent examples of a species wiped out by human hunting practices, the thylacine was a distinctive carnivorous marsupial native to Australia, Tasmania and New Guinea.

The last known specimen held in captivity died at Hobart Zoo back in 1936 and while there have been fleeting sightings of the species since then, it has long been considered extinct.

Despite this however, hope still remains - especially given the number of people who claim to have seen live thylacines in recent years. The possibility that the species has survived in the wild has generated a great deal of interest all over the world and has captured the public's imagination.
Sadly though, a new study conducted by Colin Carlson at the University of California, Berkeley and colleagues may have finally put an end to such hopes once and for all.

By using a mathematical model, the researchers have calculated that the odds of the thylacine's survival are likely to be infinitesimally small and may even be as low as 1 in 1.6 trillion.

If this is indeed the case then it is highly likely that the Tasmanian tiger is truly gone for good.

Source: New Scientist | Comments (38)




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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #29 Posted by oldrover 7 years ago
I don't know how they arrived at this figure because I don't understand statistics. I do know the history of the thylacine's final years better than most though, and I agree with the crux of what they're saying.  Dead by 1950, is my best estimate. 
Comment icon #30 Posted by Black Monk 7 years ago
I bet they did - they thought it had been extinct for 66 million years, and they turned out to be wrong. The coelacanth is just one of several species that the so-called experts assumed, wrongly, to be extinct. I'd not be surprised at all if the thylacine joins them.
Comment icon #31 Posted by Matt221 7 years ago
From birds  like the Taka-he to reptiles like the Lake Gomera giant lizard to tiny insects even large mammals like the Charoa Peccary have been rediscovered  when they were supposed to be extinct but as for the Thylacine if it is still alive it keeps a family low profile although it would be good to think somewhere one day ......
Comment icon #32 Posted by oldrover 7 years ago
They were subsequently found to have been being used by the U.S hat industry for years before that. It's not that no one knew they were there, they did, just they weren't recognised by as being distinct. No danger of that happening with a thylacine. 
Comment icon #33 Posted by oldrover 7 years ago
Let's just clear this up. It's not as if the 'so-called experts'  went swaggering round declaring it extinct only to be embarrassed when one turned up dead in 1938. It was they who realised the significance of the specimen when they saw it.  The animal was, prior to '38, only known from fossils, why until one turned up alive should they have expected not to be extinct exactly? Yet it's still wheeled out time and again as an example of the hubris of the 'experts' who discovered it in Western terms in the first place?  
Comment icon #34 Posted by taniwha 7 years ago
Did someone mention coelacanth?   
Comment icon #35 Posted by BeastieRunner 7 years ago
Well, here's hoping ...
Comment icon #36 Posted by Matt221 7 years ago
Not dissimilar to this evolution of man lol  
Comment icon #37 Posted by qxcontinuum 7 years ago
i always laugh when i heard such terrific scientific calculations with little to no evidence. Probability was one of my favorite subject in school and if i told my teacher about this calculation he 'll laugh too. is ridiculous. 
Comment icon #38 Posted by Podo 7 years ago
It's probably long gone, but it would be great to be wrong. Even if it is still alive, though, its numbers must be ridiculously low.


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