|Theodore Thomson Flynn (1883-1968):
Thomson Flynn was an accomplished Australian zoologist recognised for
his work on marsupial embryology and development. Flynn was appointed
lecturer in biology at the University of Tasmania in 1909 and became Professor
of biology in 1911. From 1912 to 1918, he also held the post of honorary
curator of the Tasmanian Museum. Flynn taught at the university until
1931, after which he left Tasmania to take the chair in Zoology at Queens
University in Belfast (1931-1948).
It is known that Flynn
acquired a number of thylacine specimens for his research. These
specimens were obtained through intermediaries such as Mrs. Roberts of
the Beaumaris Zoo, and James Harrison, the wild animal dealer, in Wynyard.
On a visit to the Beaumaris Zoo on the 15th March 1914, Flynn borrowed,
but failed to return, four thylacine skeletons lent by Mrs. Roberts from
her private collection. Paddle (2008, p. 461) states: "It was
only when Flynn borrowed mounted specimens, skeletons and preserved skins
from Roberts' personal collection, and refused to give them back; and agreed
to buy dead zoo specimens from her, but after collection refused to pay
for them, that their professional relationship soured". These
specimens included the mother of the Woolnorth
family group, the dead on arrival Bryant specimen, and the two
pups. With respect to the Bryant specimen,
Paddle (2008, p. 460) notes that Roberts had previously donated
its internal organs to Flynn in June 1911. On the 9th September 1912,
a paper to the Royal Society of Tasmania describing the internal organs
of the thylacine. This paper was no doubt written in part from his
detailed examination of the organs of the Bryant specimen:
Thomson Flynn (1883-1968).
Courtesy: Queen's University
read a paper upon certain of the internal organs of the Thylacine, or native
tiger. In many respects they agreed with those of Sarcophilus, the
native devil, which belonged to the same group of marsupials as the dasyuridae,
and were characterised by the same simplicity".
In an article entitled
University - Ralston Trust Report" published in the Mercury newspaper
on the 18th November 1926 (p. 3), Flynn documents the transfer of
brain specimens, including that of a thylacine, to University College in
"I was informed by
Professor G. Elliott Smith that a most important and valuable contribution
to science, founded upon marsupial brain material forwarded by me, will
shortly be published from the Department of Anatomy, University College.
The breadth of this work will be imagined when it is understood that it
is founded on the study of the brains of the following animals, all sent
from Tasmania: Tasmanian tiger (or wolf), Tasmanian devil, native cat,
tiger cat, grey opossum, ringtail opossum, bandicoot, wombat, opossum mouse,
flying squirrel, kangaroo rat, bush rat, porcupine, and platypus".
It is possible that
the thylacine brain specimen still exists in the Elliott Smith collection
There are 2 other specimens
within the 5th revision of the ITSD (2013) that specify Flynn as the donor.
A thylacine taxidermy from Queen's University (Belfast) which is now in
the Ulster Museum collection (specimen UMB LH928), and a cranium gifted
to Henry Cushier Raven, an Associate Curator of Comparative and Human Anatomy,
at the American Museum of Natural History in New York (specimen AMNH 146829).
specimen UMB LH928. Courtesy: Ulster Museum.
Source: International Thylacine
Specimen Database (2013).
Herbert Hedley Scott (1866-1938):
Herbert Hedley Scott,
the first curator of the Queen Victoria Museum in Launceston (curator from
1897 to 1938), occasionally placed advertisements in the local press for
thylacine (native tiger) specimens:
"WANTED FOR LAUNCESTON
MUSEUM - Perfect specimens of the following animals; Native tiger, devil,
kangaroo rats, native cats, porcupine, wallaby, kangaroo, platypus, marsupial
rats and mice. H. H. SCOTT, Curator" - (Launceston
Examiner, 3rd May 1899 [p. 1]).
Not to be outdone by
its northern rival, the Tasmanian Museum in Hobart also advertised for
specimens of the "tiger" or "devil":
- the Tasmanian Museum wants to Purchase Tasmanian Tigers, Devils, and
other Native Animals. For further particulars apply to Secretary,
Museum, Hobart" - (The Mercury, 24th May 1913
Few, if any, of these specimens
would have been accompanied by source data.
Professor Henry Ward (1834-1906):
Henry Ward, the founder of Ward's Natural Science (Rochester, New York),
collected natural history specimens from around the world to sell to museums,
universities, and private collectors. In the Mercury newspaper of
the 12th June 1873 (p. 1), he placed an advertisement
(one of a series
of such advertisements) for Tasmanian specimens including the thylacine
SPORTSMEN - The subscriber desires to procure SPECIMENS of NATURAL HISTORY
for his Zoological and Geological Establishment. All parties who
have in their possession Skins, Skeletons, or Skulls of Animals of any
class, or who are in a position to obtain these to sell at reasonable prices,
are requested to address with very full particulars of kinds, size, price,
Specimens of Tasmanian Wolf, Tasmanian Devil, or Tiger, Boomer Kangaroo,
Wombat, Ornithorhynchus, Echidna, Turtles, &c. are particularly desired".
Source: Rochester Public
Library Local History Division.
appear to have been productive, as he was subsequently able to supply the
Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology, Cornell University Museum of Vertebrates,
Milwaukee Public Museum and Princeton University in the United States with
thylacine specimens (Source: ITSD, 5th revision,
6349, MPM (no catalogue number), PU 568. Source: International Thylacine
Specimen Database (2013).
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