Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Tasmanian Tiger Extinction Mystery

Date:
June 27, 2007
Source:
University of Adelaide
Summary:
Could the world-fabled Tasmanian Tiger have survived beyond its reported extinction in the late 1930s? Australian researchers hope to find out by extracting and analyzing DNA from animal droppings found in Tasmania in the late 1950s and '60s.

Dr. Jeremy Austin with a mounted specimen from the SA Museum.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Adelaide

A University of Adelaide project led by zoologist Dr Jeremy Austin is investigating whether the world-fabled Tasmanian Tiger may have survived beyond its reported extinction in the late 1930s.

Dr Austin from the Australian Centre for Ancient DNA is extracting ancient DNA from animal droppings found in Tasmania in the late 1950s and ‘60s, which have been preserved in the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery.

“The scats (droppings) were found by Eric Guiler, Australia’s last real thylacine expert, who said he thought it more probable they came from the Tasmanian Tiger rather than a dog, Tasmanian Devil or quoll,” Dr Austin said.

The Tasmanian Tiger, or thylacine, was widespread in Tasmania when European settlers arrived in 1803. Resembling a large, long dog with stripes, a heavy stiff tail and big head, the thylacine was the world’s largest marsupial carnivore at the time of its extinction in 1936 when the last one in captivity died in Hobart Zoo.

“If we find thylacine DNA from the 1950s scats it will be significant,” Dr Austin said. “The last Tasmanian Tiger killed in the wild was in 1918, so there’s a 20-year gap between a wild sighting and one in captivity. It’s a long shot that they were still around in the 1950s, but we can’t rule it out at this stage.”

Dr Austin is also extracting DNA from bones of both the Tasmanian Tiger and Tasmanian Devil found on mainland Australia. Scientists believe the Tiger lived on the mainland 2000 years ago and the Devil 500 years ago.

“The DNA may be able to reveal they were different species to the Tasmanian animals, although it’s unlikely. It’s only been 10,000 years since Bass Strait flooded and Tasmania was separated from the mainland. That’s not a long period of time in evolutionary terms.

“The main reason people think they may have been different species is that the Tasmanian Tiger was much bigger than its mainland cousins. That’s not surprising given the climate because the colder the environment, the larger the animal.”

Dr Austin is working in collaboration with Oliver Berry from the University of Western Australia, another zoologist who is extracting ancient DNA from scats in Tasmania to find evidence of foxes.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Adelaide. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Adelaide. "Tasmanian Tiger Extinction Mystery." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 June 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/06/070626214417.htm>.
University of Adelaide. (2007, June 27). Tasmanian Tiger Extinction Mystery. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/06/070626214417.htm
University of Adelaide. "Tasmanian Tiger Extinction Mystery." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/06/070626214417.htm (accessed October 22, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Cadaver Dogs Aid Search for More Victims of Suspected Indiana Serial Killer

Cadaver Dogs Aid Search for More Victims of Suspected Indiana Serial Killer

Reuters - US Online Video (Oct. 21, 2014) Police in Gary, Indiana are using cadaver dogs to search for more victims after a suspected serial killer confessed to killing at least seven women. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
White Lion Cubs Unveiled to the Public

White Lion Cubs Unveiled to the Public

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Oct. 21, 2014) Visitors to Belgrade zoo meet a pair of three-week-old lion cubs for the first time. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Cadaver Dog' Sniffs out Human Remains

'Cadaver Dog' Sniffs out Human Remains

AP (Oct. 21, 2014) Where's a body buried? Buster's nose can often tell you. He's a cadaver dog, specially trained to find human remains and increasingly being used by law enforcement and accepted in courts. These dogs are helping solve even decades-old mysteries. (Oct. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) Two white lion cubs, an extremely rare subspecies of the African lion, were recently born at Belgrade Zoo. They are being bottle fed by zoo keepers after they were rejected by their mother after birth. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins