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.

Related Articles


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 December 21, 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 December 21, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 19, 2014) Millions of monarch butterflies begin to descend onto Mexico as part of their annual migration south. Rough Cut (no reporter narration) Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) The new year is coming and nothing will energize you more for 2015 than protein-filled foods. Fitness and nutrition expert John Basedow (@JohnBasedow) gives his favorite high protein foods that will help you build muscle, lose fat and have endless energy. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Newsy (Dec. 19, 2014) A new study suggests a certain type of bird was able to sense a tornado outbreak that moved through the U.S. a day before it hit. Video provided by Newsy
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