| The coat of the thylacine
is coarse, short, dense and typically a grey-brown colour with between
13 and 22 darker stripes commencing from just behind the shoulder blades
and terminating at the base of the tail.
The thylacine's face
is greyish-brown with whitish markings around the mouth, eyes, and ears.
The ears of the thylacine are erect, forward facing, rounded and covered
with short fur.
photograph of "Benjamin",
the last known captive thylacine, taken in 1933 at the Beaumaris Zoo (QD)
by Dr. David Fleay. Photo courtesy: David Fleay Trustees.
| The skull
of the thylacine exhibits a far greater degree of sexual
dimorphism than is the case with any other marsupial species.
The male thylacine has a proportionally larger skull with a longer face
than that of the female. The female's skull by comparison is smaller,
with a shorter muzzle, less expanded zygomata,
smaller but proportionally larger teeth. There are a number
of important structural differences between the skull of a thylacine and
that of its placental counterparts. The dental
formula of the thylacine is: I1-4/1-3;
C1/1 ; P1-3/1-3;
M1-4/1-4 = 46, compared
to that of the wolf: I1-3/1-3;
M1-3/1-2 = 42 (dental
abbreviations: I (incisors), C (canines), P (premolars), M (molars). The
teeth of the thylacine appear to be homologous
to the placental milk
teeth; the only
thylacine by L. Medland at the London Zoo, 1906.
photo of this individual is shown
replaced in life being the third premolar. In the thylacine, both
the upper and lower molars are adapted to function as carnassials.
In placental carnivores, it is the last upper premolar and the first lower
molar so modified, the remaining molars being adapted for crushing.
| The thylacine is unique
in having the largest gape of any mammal. This is often quoted as
being in the order of 180º, apparently influenced by old photographs
and films which depict the animal yawning. However, this would be
anatomically impossible, since a gape greater than 90º would result
in dislocation of the jaw.
| The thylacine
is digitigrade, and like dogs and cats, walks on its toes. A major
difference between the feet of the thylacine and those of a canid, is that
there is no webbing present between the thylacine's toes. In canids,
the webbing serves to hold the digits together when the animal is running.
Thylacines also have proportionately longer rear limbs as compared to canids,
giving them a rear-to-front sloping back, and a loping gait.
The shape of the thylacine's
hindquarters is very distinctive. The tail
is not abruptly separated from the body as would
be the case with a dog, but tapers gradually, rather like that of
a kangaroo or wallaby.
female thylacine in the sanatorium (quarantine) at London Zoo, photographed
by F. W. Bond. Courtesy: Zoological Society of London. This
thylacine was purchased from Mrs. Roberts at the Beaumaris Zoo (SB), and
arrived in London on the 12th March 1909. It was resident at the
zoo until its death on the 5th June 1914.
photographs of this individual:
No audio recordings
of thylacine vocalisation
exist. Our knowledge of the sounds it makes is based solely on the
historical accounts of trappers, zoo staff, and naturalists. It appears
that thylacine vocalisation serves both as a structured warning to any
potential aggressor, as well as a means of social interaction between family
members. Five distinct vocalisations have been identified: a coughing
bark, a snuffle, a hiss, an undulating cry, and a growl.