Thylacinus cynocephalus, often called the tasmanian tiger or the tasmanian wolf, is a carnivorous marsupial which humans have hunted to extinction. The last tasmanian tiger died due to neglect in Hobart Zoo September 7th, 1936  officially marking the extinction of an awesome marsupial.
It was not actually a tiger or a wolf, and was more closely related to the tasmanian devil. The most fascinating characterisitic about this species is that this creature was a marsupial, meaning that it carried its young in a pouch like a kangaroo or a sugar glider.
It was the largest carnivorous marsupial around 100-130cm in length, with a tail that was on average 50-65cm . It was 60cm tall and could weigh up to 27Kg . These marsupials had distinctive black stripes from its shoulders down its tail. The rest of the beast was tan with short dense fur. Males averaged larger sizes than the females which is an example of sexual dimorphism.
The females had a rear-opening pouch which is designed to prevent dirt from getting in when the creature was digging. Strangely the males also had a partial rear-facing pouch which served as a protective covering for its external sex organs .
The hindlegs were longer than the front legs, however, they were short, similar to a munchkin cat. Their stiff tail that could not wag, contributed to their strange style of walking. On all fours, the creature was slow and could trot but not sprint. Interestingly, they could perform a bipedal hop like a kangaroo, using their stiff tail as a support .
An Apex Predator
As a carnivore it ate other marsupials with a preference for wallabies and possums. The diet of these large marsupials also included birds and small rodents. As nocturnal animals they typically hunted at night in pairs or alone . They were well suited for hunting at night due to their well developed elliptical eyes that were similar to a cat’s . After Euopean colonization, they also attacked and ate small farm animals such as chickens.
While on the hunt it was reported that they were stealthy and made small “yapping” noises , perhaps to alert the other to movement or a random thought. Video and photographs demonstrated that it could open its mouth about 90 degrees and although they had 46 teeth, the jaw muscles were not strong enough to kill larger prey such as kangaroos or sheep . Using the night as cover, they were primarily ambush hunters that displayed characteristics more similar to a cat than a dog .
It was found primarily in Australia and fossil evidence suggests that they had evolved around 400 million years ago. Competition with other carnivores such as the dingo caused the species to become exclusivley found in Tasmania about 2000 years ago . It was in Tasmania around the end of the 1780’s that Europeans first encountered these creatures.
While they preferred open grasslands and forests, European settlements forced these reclusive creatures into denser forests. During daylight hours, they slept in caves and hollow trees and logs .
While there is little information on the behavior of this species, early observations of these nocturnal creatures indicated that they were timid and avoided contact with early settlers. Most observations of the species came from captive animals and a population of Thylacine that were going extinct.
These creatures may have looked like vicious beasts due to the misconception that they would kill livestock but the reality is that they were fearful of humans. Stressed populations are more likely to demonstrate erratic behaviors  and observations made during the culling of the species could be related to intense stress within the population.
The females were able to produce offspring throughout the year as indicated by joeys found in the pouches during all seasons when the species was culled . Peak breeding seasons were the winter and spring with females having two to four joeys per litter. Joeys remained in the pouch until they grew fur and were able to move about, then they remianed in the nest for an unkown amount of time. Like the adults, there is little known about the behavior of joeys and juveniles. Melbourne Zoo in 1899 was the only successful captive breeding of the species .
Dingos drove the tasmanian tiger out of the Australian mainland about 2000 years ago due to competition for food and resources . Humans killed off the rest of them.
Dingos never migrated to the Tasmanian island and so the Thylacine had no competition for food on the island. They coexisted with native peoples until the arrival of the European settlers. On May 6th, 1930, a farmer shot and killed the last wild Thylacine on the claim that it was attacking his chickens .
The culling of the species due to the label as “pests” and a perceived threat to livestock was cruel and inexcusable. The arrival of settlers, their livestock, and their pets directly contributed to the extinction of the coolest species I have ever learned about. Over 2,0000 private and government bounties lead to increased killing of the species  that directly led to the downfall of their population.
While there were no dingos to outcompete the Thylacine, the dogs and cats that settlers brought over posed a new threat to the species. Not only did these species outcompete the tasmanian tiger for food but they also spread new diseases that their immune systems could not respond to . It is believed that they contracted distemper or mange from feral offspring of European pets. Due to the small population size, and therefore limited genetic diversity, the tasmanian tiger population was unable to defend itself from these new threats.
The arrival of settlers in Tasmania led to the destruction of the tasmanian tiger’s habitat due to the clearing of forests and fields for agriculture . Habitat destruction led to limited resources such as shelter, food, and water which were taken over by feral dogs and cats. With limited options, the tasmanian tigers did kill small livestock such as chickens, however, that did not give humans the right to hunt them to extinction.
Other than simply killing them, the tasmanian tigers were also part of the fur trade and exchanged between zoos to be used as entertainment for humans . The fur trade included the tasmanian tigers themselves, but more importantly their prey species were killed in large quantities  leaving many thylacine to starve. Poor treatment of captive animals and culling led to the extinction of this species.
There may be some hope that the species survived in seclusion, but like Bigfoot sightings, it can be difficult to know when something is true.
It was estimated that about 5,000 tasmanian tigers lived in Tasmania when Europeans began settling the island. Personal bounties on the animal began in the 1830’s and by 1888 the Tasmanian Parliament issued a bounty on the species . They became extinct due to humans. Multiple sightings have spurred interested parties into investigating whether these claims are true.
From 1936 to 1998, there were 203 reports of Thylacine sightings on the mainland, Australia . Reports of sightings in Tasmania continue into the present which has encouraged many researchers and zoologists to seek out evidence that it miraculously survived. Efforts have been fruitless so far.
 Attard, Marie. “Why Did the Tasmanian Tiger Go Extinct?” The Conversation, 4 Mar. 2020, theconversation.com/why-did-the-tasmanian-tiger-go-extinct-11324.
 Bradford, Alina. “Facts About Tasmanian Tigers.” LiveScience, Purch, 20 Apr. 2017, www.livescience.com/58753-tasmanian-tiger-facts.html.
 Campbell, Cameron. “The Thylacine Museum – Biology: Behaviour (Page 1).” Go to the NATURAL WORLDS Introduction Page, www.naturalworlds.org/thylacine/biology/behaviour/behaviour_1.htm.
 Oz, Trishan. “Tasmanian Tiger (Thylacine) Facts .” Panique, Senani Ponnamperuma, 29 Jan. 2020, panique.com.au/trishansoz/animals/tasmanian-tiger-thylacine.html.
 “The Thylacine.” The Australian Museum, New South Wales Government, 2 Apr. 2019, australianmuseum.net.au/learn/australia-over-time/extinct-animals/the-thylacine/.
 “Thylacine.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 28 Nov. 2006, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thylacine.