The Thylacine or the Tasmanian tiger is not exactly like any regal tiger you have seen so far. In fact, this tiger is a far cry from the normal tigers. Although now they are considered to be extinct, their existence is still in question due to many reported sightings by explorers. The Thylacine looks less of a tiger and more of a wolf, and has few characteristics of a dog as well. This animal was seen in large numbers in the early days, but soon their numbers declined due to hunting.
The Thylacine was a marsupial―these are mammals that are distinguished from other animals due to the presence of a pouch, which is used to carry their young ones. The males as well as females both had a pouch. This was mainly because, for the males, the pouch proved to be a form of protection to the external organs.
Early depictions of the Tasmanian tiger reveal a strong resemblance to dogs. This creature looked like a shorthaired dog, which had a big head. It had been referred to as a tiger only because of the presence of stripes on the body. They had a yellowish-brown colored coat for the body. A rather strange characteristic feature was the ability to open its jaw wide to an angle of 120 degrees. It has also been reported that this tiger did not really have the ability to run at a high speed. Studies revealed they even hopped at times, on the similar lines of a kangaroo.
On an average, the Thylacine was reported to be around 100 - 180 cms in length (from the nose to the tip of the tail), and stood at a height of 60 cms (at the shoulder area). They could weigh up to 30 kg. The tail was stiff and was thicker towards the base. The stripes were around 15 - 20 in number, which went all across from the shoulder to the base of the tail.
Breeding and Behavior
The breeding period took place during the winter and spring seasons. Young ones spent their time in the mother's pouch. When these young ones left the mother's pouch, they spent time in caves, till they reached an age to hunt for themselves.
They were known to be nocturnal by nature. The days were spent in the caves and the nights were spent hunting in the forests. This animal used its strong sense of smell to capture prey in the dark, but was also known to be shy in nature. Experts revealed that they preferred to pursue their prey by trotting behind them, rather than the powerful bursts of speed displayed by tigers.
Native to Australia and areas of New Guinea, this tiger was known to inhabit wetlands and the grassland areas. It also preferred eucalyptus forests. In areas of Tasmania, it preferred to inhabit woodland areas. This was also indicated with the discovery of rock paintings, that suggest that the Tasmanian tiger lived in that particular area, and was also seen approximately 2,000 years back!
Mystery Surrounding the Thylacine
The Tasmanian tiger was reported to be extinct after the 1930s. There were many factors that led to the rapid decline of these animals. The loss of habitat, and being hunted by humans and wild dogs led to their extinction. However, a great number of people in Tasmania have reported seeing them in the wild. Although certain unclear photographs were provided, the authenticity of these photographs is still a matter of great debate.