Learn about the Tasmanian tiger, a cool-looking, but extinct animal that once lived throughout Australia and the surrounding area.
Find out what made them unique and why they are no longer with us.
What Is a Tasmanian Tiger?
Picture an animal that has the body of a large dog with a stiff tail, the head of a wolf, the pouch of a kangaroo, and stripes in the back like a tiger. Make it about 6 feet long, and you have a Tasmanian tiger, also known as a thylacine. Some have also called it a Tasmanian wolf.The Tasmanian tiger was once the largest carnivorous marsupial on Earth.
‘Carnivorous’ means it ate meat, and a ‘marsupial’ is a mammal that has a pouch for carrying its young.
Although it looked like a dog, the thylacine was more closely related to other marsupials in and near Australia, including Tasmanian devils, kangaroos, and koalas. Like them, the thylacine would carry its young in a warm little pouch, and it was able to stand on its hind legs for a long time. It could bark like a dog when it was in danger, but it could also hiss.Unfortunately, the Tasmanian tiger is now labeled as extinct (meaning there are no more of that animal) because there have been no confirmed sightings of one for almost 100 years. Because modern scientists have not been able to study them alive, they have only been able to rely on very old written observations and old studies to describe the thylacine.
There are several things they know for sure about the creature, but they have had to make educated guesses on other things.
What Did They Eat?
Scientists aren’t 100% sure, but they think Tasmanian tigers ate smaller animals like kangaroos, wallabies, and possums. Although they were known to be shy and secretive, they were nocturnal, meaning they hunted at night. They couldn’t run very quickly, so they would sneak up on their prey or feed on dead animals. Scientists believe they preferred smaller animals because even though they had very wide, muscular jaws, their jaws were pretty weak.
Why Did They Become Extinct?
Before extinction, thylacines could be found throughout the wetlands, forests, and grasslands on the continent of Australia, the smaller island of Tasmania, and New Guinea.
There are several causes for their extinction. For one thing, they competed with the Tasmanian devil for food because they ate the same prey. However, the numbers of thylacines really started to go down when European settlers moved to Australia. The settlers cleared the land and built communities, which scared off the thylacine’s food sources and left them with nowhere to go.
The settlers also hunted the thylacines because they did not want them to kill the sheep that they brought with them.
Are They Really Extinct?
There have been many reported sightings of thylacines, but none of these reports have been verified. Scientists and researchers in Tasmania often go on searches to see if they can find any evidence that any are still alive. Some believe they’re still out there!
The Tasmanian tiger, also known as the thylacine, is an extinct carnivorous marsupial that used to live throughout Australia, Tasmania, and New Guinea. It resembled a striped dog with a wolf’s head and kangaroo pouch. It became extinct due to hunting and changes in its environment.