Saturday, May 7, 2011

Way Of The Tasmanian Tiger

Thylacinus Cynocephalus, The Dog Headed Pouched One
In the 18th and 19th centuries, explorers in Tasmania brought back tales of a strange creature that looked like a wolf with tiger-like stripes on its haunches. That animal was the thylacine.  What a fascinating creature: it's got the skull of a dog and the elbows of a big cat.

Its hunting style is that of a cat's - ambush and chase by stealth and speed.  But it takes down its quarry like a dog or a wolf.  Because the young was raised in a pouch, this animal was classified as a marsupial, more akin to a kangaroo or koala. Part of its species name – cynocephalus – literally means “dog head”. Superficially, the dog-like features are most obvious.

Nonetheless, because of their multi-species traits (both males and females have pouches), they have earned several nicknames including “marsupial wolf” and “Tasmanian tiger”.

Sadly, no one knows very much about the thylacine, because human settlers, as is their way, exterminated it before anyone could properly study it. The last wild thylacine was killed by a farmer in 1930, and the last captive animal died six years later. Thankfully, their bones are still around and they still have much to reveal. Read more by clicking here.

An afterthought: Will the fascinating, primitive hound from the Sahelian desert of West Africa called the Azawakh in western culture, also go the way of the Tasmanian Tiger?  Humans seem to have an uncanny knack of wanton destruction in the name of holiness.  In the process of 'purifying' this race of aboriginal dog, will the humans in power exterminate them?  Read about it here.

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