Posted on Category:Wild Animal

Long Dead Tasmanian Tiger Is Still Alive and Roaming

The “quite unique” wolf-like Tasmanian tigers that thrived on the Island of Tasmania before becoming extinct in 1936 may have survived in the wild for much longer than previously thought, according to research. There is also a small possibility that they are still alive today, experts say.

Tasmanian tigers, also known as Thylacine (Thylacinus cynocephalus), were carnivorous marsupials with prominent stripes on the lower back. The species was originally found throughout Australia, but disappeared from the continent about 3,000 years ago due to human persecution. It persisted on the Island of Tasmania until a government bounty introduced by the first European settlers in the 1880s finished the Population and led the species to extinction.

“The marsupial wolf was quite unique among living marsupials,” said Andrew Pask, a professor of epigenetics at the University of Melbourne in Australia, who was not involved in the new research. “Not only did he have his iconic wolf appearance, but he was also our only marsupial predator. Peak predators are extremely important parts of the food chain and are often responsible for stabilizing ecosystems,” Pask said in an email to Live Science.

The last known marsupial died on Sept. in captivity at Hobart Zoo in Tasmania. It is one of the few animal species for which a precise extinction date is known, according to the thylacine Integrated Genomic Restoration Research (TIGRR) laboratory (opens in a new tab), led by Pask, which aims to bring Tasmanian tigers back from the dead.

But now scientists say marsupial wolves probably survived in the wild until the 1980s, with a “small chance” that they could still be hiding somewhere today. In a study published on March 18 in the journal Science of the Total Environment (opens in a new tab), researchers examined 1,237 marsupial wolf sightings reported in Tasmania from 1910.

The team estimated the reliability of these reports and where the marsupial wolves could have survived after 1936. “We used a new approach to map the geographical pattern of its decline throughout Tasmania and estimate its extinction date taking into account the many uncertainties,” Barry Brook, professor of environmental sustainability at the University of Tasmania and lead author of the study, told The Australian (opens in a new tab).

Marsupial wolves may have survived in remote areas until the after 1980s or 1990s, with the first extinction date in the mid-1950s, the researchers suggest. Scientists believe that some Tasmanian tigers could still be entrenched in the wilderness of the south-west of the state.

But others are skeptical. “There is no evidence to confirm any of the sightings,” Pask said. “One thing that is so interesting about the Marsupial Wolf is the way it evolved to look so much like a wolf and be so different from other marsupials. For this reason, it is very difficult to tell the difference in distance between a marsupial wolf and a dog, and that is probably why we still have so many observations, even if we have never found a dead animal or an unambiguous image.”

If marsupial wolves had survived in the wild for a long time, someone would have experienced a dead animal, Pask said. Still, “it would be possible at that time [in 1936] that some animals persisted in the wild,” Pask said. “If there were survivors, there were very few.”

While some are looking for surviving Tasmanian tigers, Pask and his colleagues want to revive the species. “Since the marsupial wolf is a recent extinction event, we have good samples and DNA of sufficient quality to do it thoroughly,” Pask said. “The marsupial wolf was also an extinction of human origin, not natural, and above all, the ecosystem in which it lived still exists and gives a place to return to.”

Extinction is arguable and remains extremely complex and expensive (opens in a new tab), according to the National Museum Australia. Those in favor of resuscitating marsupial wolves say the animals could boost conservation efforts. “The marsupial wolf would certainly help rebalance the ecosystem in Tasmania,” Pask said. “In addition, the key technologies and resources created as part of the thylacine De-Extinction project will currently be essential to contribute to the conservation and conservation of our existing endangered and threatened marsupial species.”

However, those who oppose it say that the extinction distracts from preventing further extinctions and that a revived Marsupial Wolf Population could not sustain itself. “There is simply no prospect of recreating a sufficient sample of genetically different individual marsupial wolves that could survive and persist after their release,” said Corey Bradshaw, professor of global ecology at Flinders University.

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