Welcome to The Thylacine Museum, an online scientific and
educational resource promoting a greater awareness and understanding of
the thylacine, or Tasmanian tiger. Here you will find nearly 400
pages of detailed information covering virtually every aspect of the natural
history of this unique Australian marsupial.
The thylacine (Thylacinus cynocephalus) is the only species of the
marsupial family Thylacinidae to exist into modern times.
It is commonly referred to as the Tasmanian tiger or Tasmanian wolf,
but being a marsupial, it is neither a tiger or a wolf in any true sense.
It is, however, an excellent example of parallel evolution - a process
which occurs as a result of adaptation to similar environments and ways
of life. The thylacine's body shape approximately resembles that
of the placental wolf because it is a predator which occupies a similar
ecological niche. Apart from the notable differences in dentition,
even the thylacine's skull superficially resembles that of a canid.
Through their separate courses of evolution, many of the marsupial mammals
of Australia have arrived at remarkably similar physical forms to the placental
mammals found elsewhere in the world.
The last survivor of an ancient and once diverse family of carnivorous
marsupials, the thylacine is a truly amazing and beautiful mammal.
Sadly, out of ignorance, irrational fear, and largely just because it was
perceived as an economic threat, a concerted war of extermination was waged
against the species. This resulted in one of man's most focused acts
of destruction towards the fauna of Australia, leading to the deaths of
thousands of thylacines during the 19th and early 20th centuries.
By the time this persecution was seen as the tragedy that it was, the thylacine
had been brought to the brink of extinction. Today, the thylacine
is listed as extinct by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and International
Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). However, there is sufficient
evidence in the form of sightings reports, many from highly respected sources,
to suggest that the extinction event may not yet have taken place.
Therefore, throughout the museum, the species is viewed as extant, albeit
The Thylacine Museum is a scientifically referenced virtual museum, and
with the release of this significantly expanded fifth edition, is now in
its 18th year online. Many prominent scientists and researchers have
contributed to the development of the website, and it is now widely acknowledged
as the definitive reference source for the species.
I am most grateful to my colleague Dr. Stephen Sleightholme, Director of
the International Thylacine Specimen Database and author of several scientific
papers on the thylacine, for his assistance with the latest update - his
help has been invaluable in making the museum what it is today. I
would like to thank Professor Mike Archer, Rosemary (Fleay) Thompson, and
Dr. Robert Paddle for their numerous inputs into various sections of the
museum, and also the late Professor Heinz Moeller, whose historical archives
were central in the expansion of the museum's content. I would like
to express posthumous thanks to the late Dr. Eric Guiler, Australia's leading
authority on the thylacine, who along with Moeller, laid the foundations
upon which all modern-day research into the species is based. I am
indebted to Col Bailey, author of several books on the thylacine, for his
invaluable help with historical research into the bushmen that hunted and
trapped the thylacine. Finally, I would like to express my thanks
to all of the museum curators and photographers who contributed to this
website, and to the museums themselves for kindly granting permission for
the use of their materials.
The museum will now take you on a journey through time to learn more about
this extraordinary and elusive marsupial carnivore.
Cameron R. Campbell
Founder and Curator
by Col Bailey