(page 13)


    There are six sets of microscopy specimens listed within the ITSD (2013). These are:

1. The James Hill collection, comprising 200 slides of the female thylacine reproductive tract, now in the Museum für Naturkunde [Humboldt University] in Berlin. James Peter Hill [1873 - 1954] was Professor of Embryology at University College (London) from 1921 to 1938.
microscopy slide - right ovary of thylacine
Microscopy slide from the Hill collection of the right ovary of the thylacine. Courtesy: Hubrecht Laboratory.
Source: International Thylacine Specimen Database (2013).

2. The Sir Charles Sissmore Tomes (1846 - 1928) dental series in the Hunterian Museum [London].

3. The Quekett thylacine femur sections in the Hunterian Museum [London].

4. The Klima slides of sectioned pouch young specimen C5744 in Museum Victoria [Melbourne]. 

5. Dr. Gennosuke Fuse's series of carmine stained brain sections in the Tohoku University Museum in Japan. 

6. Dr. J. S. Foote's femoral histology sections at the Creighton Medical Centre in Omaha [USA].

TUS 1293
Fuse collection brain sections [TUS 1293].  Courtesy: Tohoku University Museum.
Source: International Thylacine Specimen Database (2013).

    Within the fifth revision of the ITSD there are a number of thylacine specimens noted as having been destroyed, either intentionally through deterioration, or as a consequence of war.  It states:

    "Museum collections are vulnerable to destruction from pests such as insects, rodents and mould.  This type of deterioration is not always addressed because the damage to the specimen is often gradual and obscured from general view.  It is not uncommon for skins to become infested with beetle larvae.  These rapidly degrade the skin [or taxidermy], and with severe infestations, there is often no recourse but to have the specimen destroyed"

    In the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal (Volume 5, 1836, p. 250), James Prinsep, the Society's Secretary, comments on the deterioration of the thylacine taxidermy in the Society's Museum: 

    "The specimens of mammalia are but few in number and their condition on my taking charge anything but satisfactory.  Some were in such a state of decay as to admit of nothing being done to improve them.  Such was the case of the Thylacinus cynocephalus its skull and paws being all that could be retained".

    Natural history collections are not immune from the ravages of war.  The Journal of the Society for the Preservation of the Fauna of the Empire (1938, p. 47), notes that a group mount consisting of a male and female thylacine and their two young were exhibited at the Liverpool Museum.  The mount was purchased in 1862 from the Tasmanian Commission for display at the International Expo, but was destroyed during a bombing raid in the Second World War.  Similarly, two thylacine specimens within the Cologne Museum of Natural History housed in the Stapelhaus collection were lost to allied bombing.  The Leeds Museum in the United Kingdom lost thylacine specimens of major international importance in bombing raids, including taxidermies, skins, skulls, and eight pouch young in alcohol.  Other thylacine skulls in the museum's collection survived the bombing intact, but were charred by the flames.  The Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons in London received a direct hit from an incendiary bomb in 1941.  The resulting fire destroyed some two thirds of the college's collection, including several historically important thylacine specimens.

C 1869-46-3-4090
Rescued skull C 1869-46-3-4090 showing scorch marks from bombing raid.
Courtesy: Leeds Museum. Source: International Thylacine Specimen Database (2013).

    It is fitting to end this subsection with the words of Dr. Sleightholme, the Project Director of the International Thylacine Specimen Database:

    "These physical remains trace the history of the thylacines untimely demise, yet its legacy in the form of these specimens continues to inspire new research and will continue to do so for many generations to come".

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