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'Sightings' of Extinct Tasmanian Tiger Prompt Search in Queensland ( 78

Elle Hunt, writing for The Guardian: "Plausible" possible sightings of a Tasmanian tiger in northern Queensland have prompted scientists to undertake a search for the species thought to have died out more than 80 years ago. The last thylacine is thought to have died in Hobart zoo in 1936, and it is widely believed to have become extinct on mainland Australia at least 2,000 years ago. But sightings of large, dog-like animals that are neither dingoes nor foxes have persisted over the decades, despite widespread scepticism. Recent eyewitness accounts of potential thylacines in far north Queensland have spurred scientists from James Cook University to launch a search for the animal long considered extinct. Professor Bill Laurance said he had spoken at length to two people about animals they had seen in Cape York peninsula that could potentially be thylacines, and that they had given plausible and detailed descriptions.
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'Sightings' of Extinct Tasmanian Tiger Prompt Search in Queensland

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  • by nospam007 ( 722110 ) * on Tuesday March 28, 2017 @12:42PM (#54128053)

    "'Sightings' of Extinct Tasmanian Tiger Prompt Search in Queensland "

    Shouldn't that be: Sightings of "Extinct" Tasmanian Tiger Prompt Search in Queensland ?

    • Newfangled critter gets a fancy emoticon command prompt, and the rest of us are stuck with dollar signs or angle prompts.

    • by wonkey_monkey ( 2592601 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2017 @01:44PM (#54128675) Homepage

      "Plausible" possible "sightings" of Tasmanian "Tiger" prompt "search" in "Queensland."

      • Re:Not sure but (Score:5, Interesting)

        by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2017 @02:08PM (#54128863)

        "Plausible" possible "sightings" of Tasmanian "Tiger" prompt "search" in "Queensland."

        Also, if they live in Queensland, they are not "Tasmanian".

        But, anyway, there is about a zero chance that these sightings are real. Thylacines can coexist with humans, and did for 40,000 years. They can NOT coexist with dingoes. Dingoes arrived in Australia (probably with Indonesian traders) about 3500 years ago. As they spread across the continent, thylacines rapidly went extinct, and only survived in Tasmania because the dingoes didn't cross the Bass Strait. There is very little chance that a sustainable population of thylacines could have survived in direct competition with dingoes for over 3000 years in one, and only one, location. That makes no sense.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          It was human hunting, driven by bounties, that killed off the thylacines. Dingos didn't help, but the thylacines were more than capable of dispatching a dingo one on one.

          • Human hunting was what killed off the Tasmanian sub-species in Tasmania. The mainland species went extinct (mostly) because of loss of its food source (from Dingoes).

          • thylacines were more than capable of dispatching a dingo one on one.

            Except it wasn't "one on one". Thylacines were solitary. Dingoes run in a pack like wolves.

        • by dbIII ( 701233 )
          The common name is "Tasmanian Tiger" and you can have it in Queensland just like you can have "Texas Chilli" in Castle Rock Maine :)

          in one, and only one, location

          Things have been seen in a lot of places in Australia. They are probably just large dogs but get mistaken for other stuff up to and including panthers (

          I heard about this project a few days ago. It's a camera trap survey to see what is out there and someone half-jokingly mentioned a thylacine since peop

      • "First" post.
    • It can be either, or both, but definitely at least one of them. No scare quotes at all would mean a contradiction.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I was fishing for bass in a jon boat when we saw it 20 yards away. Fortunately we managed to get away - I thought my buddy Elvis Presley was going to have a heart attack.

    BTW people have been asking about Elvis. He's become pretty religious these days, having seen the crop circles.

    • If this thing is spinning around, making growling sounds vaguely like Mel might just be a Tasmanian Devil [] ....and would best be left alone, they'll eat ANYTHING, including wabbits......
    • by Slugster ( 635830 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2017 @05:24PM (#54130589)
      It's okay to be skeptical, but outright cynicism can leave you looking like an idiot.
      Consider that:
      1. Vietnam people said for years there was a big deer that only lived deep in the jungle, but scientists kept saying "no there's not, we're smart and we looked"
      2. Border Mexico people said for years that there was Jaguars roaming in the US/Mexico border region, but scientists kept saying "no there's not, we're smart and we looked"
      3. People said for the last several hundred years that octopi can come out of the water and attack prey, but scientists said "no they don't, we're smart and we looked"

      A lot of local yokel animal stories turn out to be BS, but a few have not.
  • by necro81 ( 917438 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2017 @12:50PM (#54128151) Journal
    Let's get Willem Dafoe on this straight away! (obscure movie ref []?)
    • by xevioso ( 598654 )

      Wow. This is impressive nerdness.

    • by Nidi62 ( 1525137 )

      Josh Gates already went looking for the Tasmanian tiger, and if he can't find it no one can.

      Seriously though, they did have some interesting photos that do lend credence to the idea that there are still some out there. It's not impossible, and certainly more likely to be found than bigfoot, loch ness, etc. It's possible a small enough breeding population could keep the species alive without being detected

      • It's very likely and it wouldn't be the first time we thought something to be extinct only to find a small population of them somewhere.

        • These guys [] were presumed to be extinct, but were rediscovered in 1948.

          There are no native land mammals in New Zealand, so introduced rats, cats, dogs and mustelids wiped out many species that have evolved to fill the ecological niches that mammals usually occupy.

          The loss that really annoys me is the Moa. [] The largest species reached 3.5 metres tall or so. Imagine coming across one of those while walking in the bush. Of course people wiped them out. It would be hard to resist hunting something that big, a t

          • It would be hard to resist hunting something that big

            Even when it wants to eat you?? Seems to me a perfect time for an enlightened, non violent sit-down...

            • The Moa evolved to take the place that large browsing mammals take in other ecosystems like deer or giraffes, so it would not be likely to try to eat you.

              They might have been aggressive if cornered, but it obviously did them no good.

            • by dbIII ( 701233 )
              No those things would be fine. It's the eagles that ate them you'd have to watch out for.
      • With the proliferation of inexpensive motion triggered wildlife cameras it's hard to believe someone wouldn't have photographed one by now.
      • by Rei ( 128717 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2017 @01:24PM (#54128469) Homepage

        Not just been photos, there's been some reported video [] as well (also Queensland). I did check the gait of the animal in the video, and it matches a diagram of the thylacine's gait. But that's hardly unique to them, it just narrows down the range of possible species. There's old zoo footage here [].

        I doubt it's actually a thylacine, but who knows, weirder things have been discovered.

        • The things are super solitary, it's been theorized that this behavior could have actually prevented it's elimination because they basically avoid everything. I'm not saying it's not extinct, just that it's noted behavior was advantageous to survive a determined eradication effort by humans. If it has survived the natural selection of the previous decades has probably made them very smart and very nervous of anything human.

        • by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2017 @09:27PM (#54132117)
          Not just photos and video, there was a guy that ran a wildlife sanctuary ( who was very proud of the thylacine teeth marks on his buttocks.
          Sadly he is also extinct.
    • You beat me to it!

      It's actually a fairly decent movie with a nice twist in the end.

    • I am not sure what is more sad:

      1) Some studio greenlite that movie
      2) You knew about it

    • by Scoldog ( 875927 )
      Yeah, except he shoots the Tassie Tiger at the end of that movie. Loved it BTW. William Dafoe has done some good movies down here in Aus, another one is Daybreakers []
  • "In the hills we almost captured one for research, but a damned bigfoot came along and scared it away."

  • by Anonymous Coward

    ...CowboyNeal's latest cosplay.

  • which way did he go? which way did he go?
  • by Quirkz ( 1206400 ) <ross.quirkz@com> on Tuesday March 28, 2017 @01:24PM (#54128467) Homepage

    Since there's not a lot to this story, I'll go ahead on a tangent and recommend a book called "Song of the Dodo." It's an excellent book about extinction (and evolution, and biological diversity). There's a section in it about the thylacine.

    Highly recommended, definitely up there on my list of science books.

  • Marsupials (Score:4, Interesting)

    by lazarus ( 2879 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2017 @02:20PM (#54129029) Homepage Journal

    The article doesn't mention it, but the Tasmanian Tiger is a marsupial []. It is essentially a dog (wolf) that carries its young in a pouch. Most mammals in Australia were marsupials but many became extinct after the Australian Aborigines discovered the continent.

    Marsupials evolved pouches to deal with the extreme climate and unreliable vegetation in Australia. A mother will remove and discard her young if the available food is not sufficient for both. Pregnant mammals with long gestation cycles don't have that luxury...

    • I was under the impression that marsupials did not evolve as a result of Australia's climate but were instead driven extinct elsewhere due to competition from placental mammals, which evolved later, and largely did not migrate to Australia until humans brought them. Likewise why Australia still has a few monotremes kicking around. Do you have references? I'm genuinely curious, not being pedantic.
      • by lazarus ( 2879 )

        No problem. My understanding was a based on a conversation that I had with an Australian anthropologist. But you will find this article [] interesting and a good place to start:

        "New evidence based on accurate optically stimulated luminescence and uranium-thorium dating of megafaunal remains suggests that humans were the ultimate cause of the extinction of megafauna in Australia.[5][6] The dates derived show that all forms of megafauna on the Australian mainland became extinct in the same rapid timeframe

  • Thought we were still looking for that leprechaun? []

  • Maybe a dingo ate your baby thylacine!

  • Take it with a MASSIVE grain of salt, Tassie tiger spotting's are like bigfoot sightings, never any quality camera or video footage (despite us living in an age when just about every man woman and child has a camera device on them). Every year we hear about sightings all through Tasmania, Victoria and South Australia and Occasionally Queensland, yet despite this and a constant stream of trackers and experts no one has found a living or dead one (i.e. non fossilised remains). It would be nice if they still e
    • All the sightings have been at night according to the article, and cell phones take lousy pictures after sundown. Unlike Bigfoot the Tasmanian Tiger is known to have existed. So, unlikely? Yes. Impossible? No.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Let me guess: all of the Tasmanian Tiger scat sightings have been after sundown, too? Also, Tasmanian Tigers always die after sunset, and then their corpses decompose and their skeletons turn into pixie dust before sunrise, right?

        This doesn't pass the smell test. Pun intended.

        • You mean, like this skull? video link []
          People could be finding bones and skulls each week without knowing it is from a supposedly extinct animal. Fishermen were eating the coelacanth while scientists thought it had been extinct for millions of years.
      • didn't say impossible, just hugely unlikely. They also were not roaming animals so if they were spotted someone and existed they should be easily found and the fact they haven't been is telling. The human mind is an amazing predictive machine, letting us see what we think it should see, this is great for reflexes and general everyday survival, but it also means people can sometimes see what they want to see. most likely they see feral cats, dogs or dingos (all sightings where hair or fur was found was found

I go on working for the same reason a hen goes on laying eggs. -- H.L. Mencken