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BIOLOGY:
- ANATOMY -
EXTERNAL ANATOMY (page 3)
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The External Anatomy of the Thylacine

Coat and stripe pattern variation:

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the thylacine's coat - image  Nicholas Ayliffe
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A close-up view of the thylacine's coat.  From this, you can get some impression of the hair texture of this species, which is somewhat coarse and rather similar to the coat of a kangaroo.
Photo: Nicholas Ayliffe.  International Thylacine Specimen Database, 5th Revision 2013.
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    The coat of the thylacine is coarse, short, dense and typically a grey-brown colour with between 13 and 22 darker stripes commencing from just behind the shoulder blades and terminating at the base of the tail.  Temminck (1824) notes: "The fur is smooth, short, hard and absolutely deprived of
woolly hairs.  The hairs of the top of the head and neck are the longest, those of the back tightened and those of the lower parts finer than the remainder of the pelt".

    Sleightholme & Campbell (2014) state: "The striping can be compressed or spaced, broad or narrow, fragmented or complete.  There are often single or multiple connections with surrounding stripes, and occasionally, breaks within each individual stripe".  These minor linking bands can clearly be seen on a motion picture still of the last known captive thylacine at Beaumaris Zoo.
 

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go to: Magnified View of the Thylacine's Coat
Click the microscope icon for a magnified view of the thylacine's coat.
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last known captive thylacine - Beaumaris Zoo (1933)
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A motion picture still of the last known captive thylacine - Beaumaris Zoo (QD), Hobart (1933).
Image courtesy: David Fleay Trustees.
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    In the image shown above, as the thylacine lifts its hind leg to scratch itself, it exposes the complex banding pattern along the course of its back that would not normally be visible from lateral photographs.

    Sleightholme & Campbell (2014) state: "The fourth and fifth stripes anterior to the base of the tail are the longest, and exhibit the greatest degree of terminal bifurcation (splitting of the stripe into two parts)".

    The coat is paler on the thylacine's abdomen, as is typically the case with most mammals. 

    Seasonal changes are evident in the character of the thylacine's fur, with the summer coat being more greyish and shorter in length, and the stripe pattern sharper with a defined outline (Moeller 1968).

    There are no differences with respect to the sexes in the number of stripes or their distribution. Temminck (1824) notes: "The juveniles have the same fur colouration as the adults, but their fur is a little longer and less smooth.  The distribution of black bands is absolutely the same"

    Moeller (1968), when examining taxidermy mounts from various European collections, noted that the thylacine has a high degree of individual variation in the stripe pattern.

terminal bifurcation of thylacine stripe pattern
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Terminal bifurcation of the thylacine's stripe pattern.
Source: International Thylacine Specimen Database, 5th Revision 2013.
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Smithsonian Institution, NMNH, Washington, DC USA (specimen USNM 154462)
Naturhistorisches Museum, Mainz, Germany (specimen NHMM W1980/579)
Smithsonian Institution, NMNH, Washington, DC USA (specimen USNM 125345)
Institut Royal des Sciences Naturelles de Belgique, Brussels, Belgium (specimen IRSNB 31)
South Australian Museum, Adelaide, Aust. (specimen SAM M612)
World Museum, Liverpool, UK (specimen WML 26.9.1910)
British Museum of Natural History, London, UK (specimen BMNH 1938.3.10.2)
Naturalis (formerly Rijksmuseum van Natuurlijke Historie), Leiden, Netherlands (specimen RMNH 39001)
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Stripe pattern variation in the thylacine.
Source: International Thylacine Specimen Database, 5th Revision 2013.
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References
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back to: External Anatomy (page 2) return to the subsection's introduction forward to: External Anatomy (page 4)


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