The Tasmanian Tiger, sometimes called the Tasmanian Wolf or even the Tassie Tiger is officially known as the Thylacine, Thylacinu cynocephalus in Latin. The animal was the largest marsupial to consume meat, before it was declared an extinct species in 1936. These animals which are thought to be extinct once lived throughout Australia, Tasmania and in New Guinea.
Tasmanian Tiger Physical Description
The animals appeared about four million years ago. There has been fossil evidence found that dates the animals back to the beginning of the Miocene era. The first record of the Tasmania tiger coming into contact with humans was with the indigenous people who lived in Australia, dating back to at least 1000 BC.
The Tasmanian tiger looked like a large dog which featured a long body with stripes running from side to side on it. It had a stiff tail and a large head for its body size. At full height, the animals would grow to be as large as six feet from their nose to the end of the tail. They stood about two feet high from the shoulders. Their tail was stiffer and thicker towards the base of it. The animals had a husky bark, though they were almost always mute. They only made sounds when they were anxious. During the hunt, they had a distinctive terrier like yap.
Tasmanian Tiger Behavior
The animals were shy and they did not want anything to do with humans. Although they were commonly associated with tigers due to their stripes, the animals were more closely related to the Tasmanian devil. Unfortunately, coming into contact with humans became too common. Often, when the animals were captured by humans, they died suddenly from shock, though scientists do not have any understanding of why this seemed to happen often. They often gave up without a lot of struggle.
To hunt, the animals relied heavily on their sense of smell, which was very good. They also had a lot of stamina, which allowed them to catch even some forms of prey that could run from them. The animals spent most of their lives hunting. They would hunt prey until the animal was exhausted.
The Tasmanian tiger's diet was mostly made up of any meat they could find. It is believed to have mostly been that of wallabies, but any small animals and even birds could have been easy targets for the Tasmanian tiger. When humans arrived in Australia, the animals then preyed on the sheep and poultry that came with European settlers at the time. Those animals who lived in captivity would consume dead rabbits and wallabies. They would do so entirely, including bones.
Tasmanian Tiger Extinction
There are many reasons that the Tasmanian tiger may have disappeared. The animals are no longer found in New Guinea or in Australia though there is some belief that they could still be present in the wild in Tasmania. The animals are thought to have disappeared from Australia and most of New Guinea prior to the arrival of the Europeans. It is believed that the growing population of the dingo could have caused this.
But, in Tasmania, their secured location helped them to survive longer. In 1803, when Europeans arrived to Tasmania, the animals were thriving and were widespread throughout the area. They liked to live in the dry eucalypt forest, but favored the wetlands and grasslands as well. So, why did the animals die off?
For the most part, it is believed that human encroachment is to blame for the animal's disappearance. Settlers hated the animals because they would attack their flocks. Parliament placed a price on their heads and people hunted them mercilessly. The animals were poisoned, trapped, snared, and simply killed in various ways. The last known animal died in Hobart Zoo in 1936.
Are they really extinct?
There have been sightings of the animals in recent times, though no evidence of them exists to support this. Most sightings happen at night and in the north portion of the State. Searches for the animals have not led to any proof of their existence, though hundreds of sightings have been reported since 1936.
Since the European settlement, the Tasmanian tiger is the only animal to become extinct in Tasmania, though in Australia the country has the worst record in the world of extinction of native animals. There is little hope of improving the numbers of the Tasmania tiger, specifically because scientists have no living species to work with.
Find out more about the Tasmanian Tiger at http://www.tasmaniatrip.com/tasmanian-tiger.html
Tasmania Trip is a travel guide on all things Tassie with information on accommodation and holidays for this beautiful state of Australia
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