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MODERN RESEARCH PROJECTS:
- THE INTERNATIONAL THYLACINE SPECIMEN DATABASE -
(page 3)
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    The rarest of all thylacine specimens, and certainly the most poignant, are the "wet" preserved adults, of which only five partially eviscerated carcasses exist within four museum collections.  Undoubtedly, the best preserved of these is a female thylacine in the Swedish Museum of Natural History collection in Stockholm.  This thylacine was on display at the London Zoo from 1884 to 1893, and was originally purchased by the Zoological Society from Dr. A. Bingham Crowther of Launceston.  This specimen is one of two specimens from which the mitochondrial genome was first sequenced by a team at the Pennsylvania State University, Centre for Comparative Genomics & Bioinformatics.  A juvenile male and a headless female are preserved at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, a partially skinned male within the collection of the National Australia Museum in Canberra, and a headless sectioned torso at the Grant Museum (UCL) in London.
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ITSD Project Director Dr. Stephen Sleightholme - image  Nicholas Ayliffe
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Dr. Stephen Sleightholme (ITSD Project Director) examining a thylacine skin at the World Museum in Liverpool.  Courtesy - World Museum, Liverpool.  Photo: Nicholas Ayliffe.
    All of the thylacine's internal organs have been preserved as "wet" specimens within 15 museum collections.  These specimens provide researchers with a unique opportunity to study the detailed internal anatomy of a species that may now be lost to science.  The general heading "Organ Specimens" embraces not only individual organs, but organ systems, body parts, dissections, sections and anatomical preparations.

    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 skins.  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).

    Taxidermy mounts are primarily created for display.  There are 101 known thylacine taxidermy mounts held within 72 collections, of which 76 are sexed (53 M & 23 F).  Seven of the specimens are juveniles.  Taxidermy mounts, although impressive as museum exhibits, are expensive to prepare, difficult to store, and easily damaged when compared to traditional study skins.  The two largest collections of taxidermy mounts are those in the South Australian Museum in Adelaide (arguably the finest), and the Queen Victoria Museum & Art Gallery in Launceston (Tasmania), with a total of 5 mounts each.
ITSD Project Director Dr. Stephen Sleightholme - image  Nicholas Ayliffe
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Dr. Stephen Sleightholme (ITSD Project Director) with the thylacine taxidermy mounts in the Leiden Museum of Natural History (Naturalis) collection in the Netherlands.  Courtesy - Naturalis.
Photo: Nicholas Ayliffe.
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References
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back to: The International Thylacine Specimen Database (page 2) return to the section's introduction forward to: The International Thylacine Specimen Database (page 4)


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