The 5th revision of the ITSD (2013) notes that there are 78 thylacine skins
preserved in 21 institutional and 4 private collections. Of this
total, 50 are complete and 28 incomplete, missing either the head, limbs,
or tail. There are 64 adult, 12 juvenile, and 2 pouch young skins,
of which 38 [49%] are sexed (20 M & 18 F).
Skins, excluding those used in taxidermy, are traditionally prepared and
stored in one of three ways; flat, rolled, or partially stuffed as study
skin CZM A6 7.13. Courtesy: Cambridge University Zoological Museum. Study
skin C5745. Courtesy: Museum Victoria. Flat skin USNM 155408. Courtesy:
Smithsonian Institute. Source: International Thylacine Specimen
Database (2013). Place your pointer over the above thumbnails to
view the full size images.
The largest single collection of thylacine skins in any institution are
those of Museum Victoria in Melbourne, with a total of 14. Other
significant collections with 5 or more skins are: the British Museum of
Natural History (London), the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
(Washington, DC), Cambridge University Zoological Museum, the Australian
Museum (Sydney) and the Tasmanian Museum & Art Gallery (Hobart).
and % total by region]
International Thylacine Specimen Database (2013)
An early historical reference to the preservation of a thylacine skin can
be found in the Hobart Town Gazette and Southern Reporter dated 6th December
1817 (p. 2):
"Last week a male animal of the same species of that which some time ago
destroyed a number of sheep on the premises of E. LORD, Esq., at Orielton
Park, made its appearance among the flock of Mr. G. W. EVANS, Deputy Surveyor
General; at Bagdad; it had at different times within a week killed thirty
sheep. It was attacked by seven dogs, and made a stout resistance,
till at length it was killed with an axe by the stock-keeper. This
quadruped is of the same dimensions as that killed at
Park, strong limbed, of light grey colour, and has a mouth nearly resembling
that of a fox, with black stripes across its back and is known in this
Colony by the name of the dog-tiger. The skin has been preserved
by Mr. Evans".
Another reference to
a skin being prepared for taxidermy is given in the Launceston Advertiser
of the 23rd May 1844 (p. 2):
"A beautiful specimen
of the native hyena was caught a few days since on the bank of the Tamar
in a snare. It has since been lying for inspection at the watch-house
for some days. The skin is about to be preserved and stuffed".
There are degrees
of colour variation apparent between thylacine skins. It has been
suggested that this variation is related to the locality of the thylacine's
home range (highland or lowland), but this supposition is yet to be proven.
The colour differences seen in the skins may simply be the result of preservation
and storage methods, rather than the occurrence of different colour types.
carriage rug (circa 1903). Courtesy: Tasmanian Museum & Art Gallery
and Queen Victoria Museum & Art Gallery.
Several skins conceal evidence of scarring primarily confined to the head
and leg areas. This appears to be related to the method of dispatch
[clubbing] or method of capture [snaring]. Bullet holes can also
be seen on a number of skins. Dogs were commonly used to hunt thylacines
and puncture wounds suggestive of dog bites or claw marks are evident on
the rump of some skins.
of the Thylacine Museum with a thylacine skin hearth rug (circa 1900-1910).
Private Collection. Photo: Cameron R. Campbell.
One of the most important surviving thylacine skin products is a hand stitched
buggy or carriage rug, produced from the skins of eight juveniles, and
now jointly held by the two Tasmanian Museums. Each skin panel measures
64 by 30 centimetres (25 by 12 inches), with the total rug measuring 1.1
metres by 1.2 metres (43 by 47 inches). The rug has a woollen cloth
backing with a hand scalloped decorative border and dates from around 1903.
A story published in The Mercury newspaper of the 26th December 1904 (p.
"Christmastide 1904", describes the various seasonal
attractions for shoppers in Hobart, including "tiger" rugs displayed in
the window of a furrier in Elizabeth Street:
"The hot wind which prevailed on Saturday was not calculated to make one
long for more clothes than was absolutely required but it was none the
less interesting to give a passing glance at the curious things in the
furriers windows - the Tasmanian porcupine or the Tasmanian kangaroo or
at the instances of the furriers art - necklets and stoles of Tasmanian
opossum or Australian fox, rugs of native tiger which is really the Tasmanian
wolf and rarest of all, of the Tasmanian platypus showing the natural skull".
The photograph to the left shows a rare, privately owned thylacine skin
hearth rug with a decorative scalloped edge, dating from between 1900-1910.
The rug is one of only two known surviving examples.