Tasmanian Tigers: Are They Extinct, And Can Extinction Be Reversed?


They were certainly unusual, if they are actually extinct. Thylacines, known as Tasmanian Tigers were/are/may be again dog sized predatory marsupials that once roamed most of Australia. There presumed extinction is not fully accepted and may even be reversible.

n222_w1150 by BioDivLibrary is licensed under CC-PDM 1.0 The stripes are the closest link to a tiger

Unfortunately, the striped marsupials ran up against human animosity. Once common, sightings became rarer and rarer until they were restricted to Tasmania. Suddenly, they weren’t seen at all. Benjamin, the last captive, died in the Hobart Zoo in 1936 and that was thought to be the end.

Some of the last Tasmanian tigers in captivity

There have been many sightings since, but the consensus is that Tassie Tigers are and remain extinct.

The extinct passenger pigeon is a candidate for reintroduction

But many Tasmanians don’t want to give up and think/wish/hope that there is a breeding population located in the remotest part of Tasmania. They have formed the Thylacine Awareness Group of Australia (TAGOA) and have invested time and money in a so far unsuccessful effort to find proof of living thylacines. The website has lots of evidence they have gathered. It hasn’t convinced skeptics, but their search goes on.

But is there another way around this? Can the Thylacine be brought back from extinction?

Maybe is the clear answer with today’s state of DNA and cloning science.

Revive and Restore is not currently working on thylacines. Some researchers are. But Restore and Revive is seeking to revive the passenger pigeon. An extinct bird that once flew across the United States in the billions. For successful revival there must be adequate sources of viable DNA. This is the problem with resurrecting dinosaurs as the DNA is too old. Recent passenger pigeon DNA does exist. They were also closely related to existing pigeons. Thylacines are a longer shot as their may not be enough DNA in museums. Their closest surviving relatives may not be suitable as surrogates either.. Yet they remain on the possible list and and may someday return. Revive and Restore is committed to both attempts at resurrecting extinct life and supporting threatened animals to prevent extinction.

Australia has other wildlife concerns as invasive species have thrived and many, especially feral housecats, are destroying local wildlife.

Published by ursusrising

long time writer and editor living in Los Angeles

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