Tasmanian Tiger

Thylacine is the real name for Tasmanian tiger. It was the largest known carnivorous marsupial of modern times. It is believed to have become extinct in the 20th century. Its dwelling is in Australia and New Guinea. Thylacine is the actual for the tiger, though; Tasmanian is the name which is more commonly used. Although a good number of species related to this tiger have been found in the fossil record dating back to the early Miocene, it was the last extant member of its genus.

The Tasmanian Tiger
The Tasmanian Tiger


It is always interesting to know the discovery of a certain animal. So, this species was first encountered by the indigenous people of Australia. Dating back to at least 1000 BCE, thylacin engravings and rock art have been located and found. At the damper rock Art Precinct on the Burrup Peninsula in Western Australia, petrogylph images of the species can be located. This tiger was rare in Tasmania by the time the first explorers arrived. At the time of arrival of Abel Tasman, Europeans came across this species as early as 1642.

His shore party reportedly saw the footprints of wild beasts’ which were having claws akin to a tiger. In 1772, Marc-Joseph Marion du Fresne reported that he viewed a tiger cat. On 13 May 1792, Frenchmen explored this species and it was the first definitive encounter. This is according to the notifications of the naturalist Kacques Labillardiere in his journal from the expedition carried by D Entrecasteasux. But, in 1805, William Peterson who was the Lieutenant Governor of Tasmania sent an elucidated description for publication in the Sydney Gazete and New South Wales Advertiser.


The description is only restricted to preserved joey specimens; fossil records; skins and skeletal remains; black and white photographs and film of the tiger in captivity. Its body structure was akin to that of a kangaroo with its large, short haired structure and a stiff tail that smoothly stretched from the body similar to that of a kangaroo.

Due to its unusual style and demeanor, some Europeans compared it directly with the Hyena. Its yellow-brown coat is equipped with 13 to 21 distinctive dark stripes across its back, rump and base of its tail. This made way to a nickname “Tiger” The stripes were more visible when the tiger was younger but gradually began to fade as it got older.

The Tasmanian Tiger
The Tasmanian Tiger

One of the stripes stretched down the outside of the rear thigh. The body hair was dense and soft. It was up to 15mm which comes to about 0.6 inches in length. While it was young, the tip of the tail had a crust. The ears were rounded. They were of 8 cm long and covered with short fur. From light fawn to dark brown; its color varies. As far as the belly is concerned, it was of cream color. Early scientific studies stated that it had an acute sense of smell similar to a dog which caused a prey to be tracked. But, then analysis of its brain structure disclosed that its olfactory bulbs were under developed. Also, it had an unusual style of gait which made it unable to run at high speed, unlike other tigers.


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