Tuesday, July 7, 2009
This is a sketch book drawing of "Benjamin", the last known Tasmanian Tiger (or Thylacine), who died from neglect in a zoo in 1936. Thylacines are certainly not unusual because of their extinction at the hands of humans, but because they are marsupials. Even though they look very much like wolves, dogs, foxes and at times hyenas, Thylacines are not related. Until they all died out, they lived in South Australia & Tamania. They were around the size of a small Labrador, and had pouches to store the little'uns in. I get this fascinating feeling of familiarity when I look at them, but at the same time there are things about them that seem like someone just made them up. Their jaws could open really wide. I mean rediculously wide. And those stripes look like a dinosaur resonstruction artist thought it would be creative, yet believeable enough, to just paint them over the top of the hind quarters. It was the curiosity factor, coupled with locals wanting to protect their chickens, that lead to their demise.
These days you can go to the Natural History Museum to see a mounted specimen, but all the taxidermically preserved examples that I have seen don't do the Tylacine justice. You can see "Benjamin" yawning, pacing and eating in 42 seconds of footage that were recorded in 1933. Or become a Thylacine boffin and read the Wiki page.
There is still hope, even though they were declared extinct a long time ago, Thylacine sightings are often reported but there has never been any confirmation. If they're still out there, I pretty much hope they're never found.