Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Thylacine (The Tasmanian Tiger)

This Epic creature was the largest known carnivorous marsupial of modern times. The reason I used past tense is because it is now extinct, mostly because of the bounty that was put on them in their native lands (mostly in Tasmania but somewhat in Australia and New Guinea.) Also, competition from indigenous humans contributed to their extinction as well. They were seen as a threat to the farmer's sheep and chickens, there was a picture passed around in 1921 of a Thylacine with a chicken in its mouth, this help to secure the animals reputation as a poultry thief. This picture was later proved to be fake as it was a mounted Thylacine. For the most part, hunters are the reason the Thylacine is extinct!

The Thylacine has been around for about 23 million years (that is the oldest fossil evidence) and was officially labeled extinct in 1982 being that no proof of their existence was proved over the last 50 years prior. There have been 3800 reported sightings since it's extinction in 1932 but none have been proven. There are preserved specimens saved and research projects being held to try and clone them to bring them back, I wonder if John Hammond is funding them. Is that really a good idea to clone them, if that succeeds than what's going to stop them from making Jurassic Park and I don't think we'll have a Dr. Alan Grant to save us this time.

Two things about this creature that make them very unique is its pouch (which it gives birth to it's under developed young in) opens at its rear so it looks backwards to a Kangaroo pouch. It also can open its jaw at 120 degrees angle, making it look like something from a Stephen King novel or a John Carpenter.

The Thylacine is a nocturnal predator, which is the reason why there are disputes on whether the Dingo was competition for them as the Dingo was diurnal (meaning it is active during the day). The Thylacine resembles a large, short-haired dog with a stiff tail that smoothly extended from its body, very much like a Kangaroo, not surprising since they are both marsupials. They have brown fur on their backs and cream-brown fur on their belly, they also have 13 to 21 stripes on it’s lower back which is what gives it the nickname "Tiger". They were not very fast runners but have excellent stamina, they would chase their prey down until it got too tired, they were also ambush predators. They hunted kangaroos, wallabies, wombats, birds and small animals.

They were not very aggressive animals although people thought they were, probably because of the “threat” to farm animals. They were defensive though, they would growl and/or hiss followed by a threat yawn where they would show you how huge their mouth/jaw was and how wide it can open, basically saying "Don't mess with me, I’m scary looking!" They lived in large packs and bred year round as zoos reported joeys being spotted in the pouch at all times of the year.

There have been some cultural references to Thylacines, for example it is in the Tasmanian Coat of Arms, the cartoon Taz-Mania featured Wendell T. Wolf, which resembled a Thylacine and my favorite reference is in the book Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld. In Leviathan Dr. Barlow's character has a pet Thylacine named Tazza, many of the characters are surprised to learn that it is a natural creature and not one that is altered by Darwinist Scientists.

I deem the Thylacine Epic for its ability to open its jaw 120 degrees and look menacing! That is more than enough to be Epic for me!

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