Sep 7, 2011

A sad anniversary

Today is National Threatened Species Day in Australia. The date is chosen because it's significant to a species that may not be strictly speaking ugly, but it's certainly not conventionally beautiful, and I think it's worth taking note of here: the thylacine.

The last thylacine died 75 years ago today at the Hobart Zoo. Sometimes called the Tasmanian Wolf or Tasmanian Tiger, it was actually a marsupial, unrelated to canines or cats. It was a carnivore, though, and that was at least part of its downfall: it was hunted by humans because farmers thought it was a danger to their sheep. But to make the story even sadder, recent research suggests that it was killed for a crime it didn't commit: its jaws were actually too weak to hunt and kill such large animals.

You can read about the life of the last thylacine at the Thylacine Museum. There's also first-person recollections of an expedition to search for the species in the wild in the 1940s and an amazing amount of other stuff. Check it out.

In marsupial solidarity,
-Wombat (No Relation)

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