Also known as the Tasmanian wolf or Thylacine, the Tasmanian tigers resembled a striped coyote, with their dog-like bodies with prominent stripes on their backs. With their large heads, stiff tails, and big bodies, these tigers were known to be the world's largest marsupial carnivores. According to researchers, Tasmanian tigers happened to be roaming the vast terrains of Australia in large numbers about 2,000 years ago. Sadly, these tigers were wiped off the surface of the Earth by 1936. The last Tasmanian tiger was captured in 1933, and housed in Hobart Zoo. However, its death in 1936 put an end to the existence of this species.
Tiger or Wolf?
The name Tasmanian tiger or Tasmanian wolf oft misleads a person into thinking that this animal is a tiger or wolf. However, none of this is true. The tiger, in appearance, resembled a large dog, with a yellowish-brown coat, and 13 - 15 black stripes on its back, which faded as the animal neared old age. This is why the name tiger got suffixed. The name wolf got tagged because of the animal's canid-like appearance. The gait bore semblance to that of a hyena, and its long stiff tail looked like the tail of a kangaroo. Thus, this animal's appearance is a cocktail of different animals.
Both male and female devils possessed pouches. However, the function of the pouches in the two sexes were different. The females possessed pouches to rear their young ones. The young cubs would remain in their mother's pouch till their bodies grew fur. Whereas, in the males, the function of the pouch was to protect the external sex organs.
Tasmanian tigers are known to have been extremely shy animals, afraid of humans. They preferred to keep away from humans and avoided mankind at all costs. These nocturnal animals oft hid in caves or hollows of trees during the day, and got active during the night, to hunt.
Tasmanian tigers were known to have large jaws with sharp teeth. Their jaws opened 120 degrees, and were the perfect adaptation for hunting prey like wombats, wallabies, kangaroos, small birds, and other small mammals. They are believed to be ambush hunters, that went about hunting their prey in the darkness of the night. After analyzing the skeletal frame of the Tasmanian tiger, researchers have concluded that these animals preferred to zero in or single out their prey, and exhaust them completely before devouring them.
Reasons for Extinction
One of the major factors that contributed to the tiger's extinction is the wild dog population of dingo. These wild dogs hunted in packs, unlike Tasmanian tigers, which hunted in small numbers or alone. Dingoes competed with the Tasmanian tigers in the food and shelter front, thereby leading to plummeting their numbers. Moreover, deforestation and encroachment of man on their habitat caused their populations to fade out. Climate changes and shortage of food and water are also believed to have been contributing factors for their extinction.
After having a bird's-eye view of the facts, it's time for us to get down to some serious introspection. We lost the Tasmanian tigers, and will lose many other animal species if we continue encroaching into forestland. We cannot do anything about the past; however, we can change the future. It's up to mankind to prevent other animal species treading this earth from falling into the same extinction pit!