Thylacinus cynocephalus


Body length – 100 to 130 cm

Tail length – 50- to 65-cm

Weight – 15 to 30 kg

Males were larger than females on average.

Physical description

  • The fur was yellowish brown, with 13 to 19 dark bars on the back and rump.
  • Hind legs were longer than the forelegs.
  • Tail was very thick at the base, tapering evenly to a point.
  • The thylacine was able to open its jaws to an unusual extent: up to 80 degrees and had 46 teeths.
  •  The tail vertebrae were fused to a degree, with resulting restriction of full tail movement.
  • Female thylacine had a pouch with four teats, but unlike many other marsupials, the pouch opened to the rear of its body and carried two to four young at a time.

Interesting fact

  • It was the largest carnivorous marsupial  with the general appearance of a medium-to-large-size dog, except for its stiff tail and abdominal pouch.
  • The thylacine had been found on the Australian mainland and New Guinea and was confined to Tasmania only in historic times.
  • It was relatively shy and nocturnal, but was a formidable apex predator, that hunted at night for wallabies and birds.
  • Due toconvergent evolution, it displayed an anatomy andadaptations similar to the tiger and wolf of the Northern Hemisphere, despite being unrelated.
  • The thylacine was one among the only two marsupials to possess pouch in both sexes: the other (still extant) species is the water opossum from Central and South America.
  • The pouch of the male thylacine served as a protective sheath, covering the external reproductive organs.
  • This animal is supposed to have hunted in small family groups, with the main group herding prey in the general direction of an individual waiting in ambush.
  • Thylacine probably appeared about 2 million years ago, and was the sole modern representative of the family Thylacinidae, which is known otherwise by several fossil species.
  • The last known live thylacine was believed to have died at Tasmania’s Hobart Zoo in 1936. Threatened Species Day is held in Australia each year on Sept. 7 to commemorate the anniversary of the animal’s death.

Causes for extinction

  • Competition with the dingo (omnivorous Australian dog)probably led to its disappearance from the mainland.
  • It was widely hunted in Tasmania by European settlers because it was considered a threat to the domestic sheep introduced to the island.
  • Disease and human encroachment into its habitat is also supposed to be the reason for its extinction.