In December 2010, Dr.
Stephen Sleightholme, the Director of the International
Thylacine Specimen Database Project, made a remarkable discovery
that finally solved beyond any doubt the 74-year-old gender question.
His findings were published in the December 2011 edition of the Australian
Zoologist, in a paper entitled "Confirmation of the gender of the last
Sleightholme meticulously examined each frame of Fleay's movie footage
to see if there was any clue that would indicate gender. The Thylacine
Museum's online copy of the Fleay
film (which runs for 45 seconds) was used for his research, and so
the museum is proud to have contributed to his discovery.
At first view of the Fleay footage, there is, as Paddle advocates, no evidence
to suggest that the animal was male. David Fleay entered the thylacine
enclosure at the Beaumaris Zoo together with Arthur Reid the curator, to
take a series of photographs and to record his film. The presence
of a stranger in the enclosure, along with his cumbersome camera equipment,
would certainly have stressed the thylacine. It is on record that
Fleay received a bite to his buttock from his reluctant host during filming.
The bite and the wide threat-yawn response seen on Fleay's film were guarded
warnings that his presence was not welcome.
that in periods of stress, the scrotum would have been held closely within
that surrounds it, and this would make casual observation of gender difficult.
Assuming this to be the case, he thought it improbable for evidence of
gender to be observed when the thylacine was walking around its enclosure.
He therefore concentrated his attention on three short sequences in the
film where Benjamin was either seated or lying down. In one
of these sequences, the animal is observed in a seated position, turning
its head and displaying its threat-yawn. It is at this point, where
the lower abdomen is clearly visible, that Sleightholme made his discovery.
When the frame is enlarged (see image below), the scrotal sac can clearly
be seen, confirming beyond any doubt that Benjamin was male.