Thursday, November 18, 2010
This 2009 video form Australia is making the rounds, attached to the interesting question of whether it might be a surviving thylacine (or Tasmanian tiger). When I saw it, I wrote: "Interesting, clearly not a dog from the tail, possibly a big fox," although the color seemed a little light for a fox (it was taken from too great a distance to see if there were any stripes). Expert opinion is tending toward a fox, but it's raised the question of whether the world's largest modern marsupial predator might still be alive. My read: thylacines absolutely persisted after the official extinction date of 1936, but how long? I think, based on sightings, a few hung on in Tasmania into the 1980s, maybe the 1990s. It is not impossible some survive today, either on Tasmania or from an unrecorded introduction to the Australian mainland, but I can't work up any real hope.