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Thylacines survived until the 90s, study claims

Posted on Sunday, 31 January, 2021 | Comment icon 11 comments

Is the thylacine really extinct ? Image Credit: Benjamin A. Sheppard
A new study has suggested that the Tasmanian tiger may have survived all the way up until relatively recently.
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.

Sporadic reports of alleged thylacines in the wild however have continued even to the present day.

But could the species still be out there or is their survival almost 100 years after their official extinction all the way back in the 1930s little more than wishful thinking at this point ?

According to a recently published study, the Tasmanian tiger probably didn't die out in the first half of the 20th Century as is commonly believed, but instead managed to hold on against all odds until the 1990s or possibly even until the early 2000s before finally succumbing to extinction.

The findings contradict the official picture and suggest that thylacines were roaming around relatively recently at a time when it was generally believed that they were long gone.
The study involved a three-year analysis of more than 1,200 sightings of Tasmanian tigers and concluded that there is still a slim chance that the species could still be out there today.

"Like the Dodo and Passenger Pigeon before it, the thylacine has become an iconic symbol of human-caused extinction," the study authors wrote.

"Even today, reports of the thylacine's possible ongoing survival in remote regions of Tasmania are newsworthy and continue to capture the public's imagination, with much debate over whether the extinction event has yet occurred and if so, when?"

"We show, using a unique and robust spatio-temporal mapping and modelling approach, underpinned by the world's first sightings database (from 1910-present day), that the thylacine likely persisted until the late 20th century, with some possibility of ongoing survival."

Source: | Comments (11)

Tags: Thylacine

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #2 Posted by Peter B on 26 January, 2021, 23:34
Back in the 1980s I met a Tasmanian biologist who was an expert in Australian marsupials, and I asked him about the possibility of thylacine survival. He thought it was extremely unlikely, based on the lack of habitat. Carnivores need plenty of land to hunt over, and he reckoned there simply wasn't enough untouched habitat for a viable population to survive. Still, never say never, and the DNA test described by Habitat is an excellent tool for further investigation.
Comment icon #3 Posted by oldrover on 27 January, 2021, 14:01
Hi, hope you're well.† I only know one of the authors and am working with them on another unrelated project at the moment, but we haven't really discussed this paper. I was sort of aware this was going on though. I'm don't ever research post 1930s in terms of sightings, but obviously I'm aware of some†and†I have to admit that not all†of the evidence for survival past the 1930s is all bad. As you'll know what people think a tiger looked like and the reality are completely different things. The reality is very obscure and I wouldn't expect many people to know it, yet I have seen very convincing ... [More]
Comment icon #4 Posted by oldrover on 27 January, 2021, 14:02
You and me both. † Habitat is a tricky issue with thylacines. I'm not convinced we've got it right as where they preferred to live.†
Comment icon #5 Posted by Tom1200 on 31 January, 2021, 22:48
Based on a greater number of eye witnesses, and with the same absence of any actual evidence, Bigfoot is alive and thriving.† And UFOs†abduct†and probe†four million Americans every year. Or am I placing too much faith in mathematical modelling?
Comment icon #6 Posted by Eldorado on 8 February, 2021, 19:51
Tasmanian Tigers Could Still Have Been Alive in the 2000s, Scientists Argue Of all the animals to have gone extinct since humans were around to notice, perhaps none loom as large in our collective consciousness as the thylacine, commonly known as the Tasmanian tiger. Unlike the dodo or the woolly mammoth, the thylacine is still lit, however dimly, in living memory. In fact, since the last known member of the species died in a zoo in 1936, supposed sightings of the creature have continued to be reported at a steady clip, including one just last week. Full Gizmodo article: Link
Comment icon #7 Posted by Nobu on 9 February, 2021, 4:40
What†was the human population density of humans in their known habitat in the 20-30s? If you donít know off the top of your head- donít worry about looking it up. Iím just curious. I guess I donít know how sparsely populated that area of Australia was or now is.
Comment icon #8 Posted by oldrover on 9 February, 2021, 18:10
During that the early 1920s they were found in the South-West, North-West, and some very limited suggestion†for them in the middle around Lake Gordon. I don't think they weren't there but the evidence is a bit vague. After 1923 there's no more firm evidence in the S-W, N-W ends in 1930. Population wise,I don't think we can say but certainly in the times mentioned the population of both areas would have been significantly higher than today, largely because of first timber then mining.†In the S-W you had an entire township called Adamsfield that isn't there anymore, plus the settlements of Tyenn... [More]
Comment icon #9 Posted by Nobu on 10 February, 2021, 3:43
Thanks. This is a subject that interests me greatly.
Comment icon #10 Posted by oldrover on 12 February, 2021, 0:05
No problem. We've a book coming out next year and I'm writing this topic up at the moment.†
Comment icon #11 Posted by Nobu on 12 February, 2021, 2:25
You post the link Iíll buy it.

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