Monday, July 07, 2008

Farewell to Dr. Eric Guiler

Cryptozoologist Loren Coleman has written an excellent eulogy for a great scientist: conservationist, zoologist, and cryptozoologist Eric Guiler. Guiler, who was 85 at the time of his death, was the world's leading expert on the presumed-extinct Tasmanian tiger, or thylacine (Thylacinus cynocephalus). Guiler spent decades gathering evidence that the species was not extinct, although near the end of his life he believed that, while the animal had certainly survived its official 1936 demise, it might now be truly gone. Guiler was the longtime chairman of Tasmania's Animals and Birds Protection Board and worked with many other aspects of wildlife and habitat conservation, but it was his work (including two books) on the thylacine for which he will be most remembered.

COMMENT: I think Guiler proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the thylacine was not extinct in 1936, but he may well be right that the scattered individuals he tracked in subsequent decades no longer make up a viable population, if indeed any still exist. Much of what we know of this enigmatic marsupial is due to Guiler. I hope he has his answers now.

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