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Scientific classification
Binomial name
Thylacinus cynocephalus

The Thylacine (Thylacinus cynocephalus) was a large carnivorous marsupial native to Australia. In the early days of European settlement it was known as the Tasmanian Tiger or Tasmanian Wolf.

In late Pleistocene and early Holocene times, the Thylacine was widespread on the mainland. After traders from the islands to the north of the continent introduced the Dingo about five thousand years ago, the Thylacine was unable to compete and the population dwindled. It is uncertain when the last mainland Thylacine died, but it may not have been until perhaps a thousand years or so ago.

In Tasmania, where there were no Dingos, the Thylacine survived until the 1930s before persecution by farmers, government-funded bounty hunters and, in the final years, collectors for overseas museums saw it wiped out. The last confirmed wild Thylacine sighting was in 1932, and the last captive died in Hobart Zoo in 1936. A short black and white film was made of the captive pacing back and forth in its enclosure.

In outward appearance, the Thylacine resembled a large, short-haired dog with a stiff tail, which smoothly extended from the body like that of a kangaroo; several stripes ordered vertically across its hindquarters; and an amazingly large gape. The Thylacine's pouch opened to the rear of its body. The structure of the thylacine spine undergoes a sudden transition about halfway along the body.

Although there is no reasonable doubt that the Thylacine is extinct, sightings are still occasionally claimed, both in Tasmania and other parts of Australia, and even in the British Isles! (See cryptozoology.)

The Australian Museum in Sydney began a project in 1999 reminiscent of the fantasy movie Jurassic Park. The goal is to use genetic material from specimens taken and preserved in the early 20th century to clone new individuals and revive the species from extinction. In late 2002 the researchers had some success as they were able to extract usable DNA from the specimens.

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