Is the Tasmanian tiger about to return from extinction?

Science News

They’re baaack . Well… maybe. After numerous unconfirmed sightings of the so-called extinct marsupial “thylacine” or “Tasmanian tiger,” the James Cook University’s Centre for Tropical Environmental and Sustainability Science has prompted a thorough search of the Queensland area of Australia.

With more than 3,000 people claiming to have seen the animal in mainland Australia, mostly by the Cape York Peninsula, researchers led by Sandra Abell from the research facility have gathered together to conduct a survey to find any living specimens. Through the use of 50 specialized cameras, researchers will hope to get one on film to confirm their existence.

The last reported specimen died in captivity more than 80 years ago, but even though the chances of spotting a wild thylacine are minuscule, lead researcher Sandra Abel sees the glass half full.

“It is a low possibility that we’ll find thylacines, but we’ll certainly get lots of data on the predators in the area and that will help our studies in general,” she said. So even if the study doesn’t yield the results they want, they will still get results that can increase their knowledge of the area.

If a thylacine is found, it won’t be the first time an animal has been rediscovered after it was presumable to be extinct. In 2013, another Australian animal thought to be long gone called the “Night Parrot” was spotted on film for the first time in 100 years, so there is a chance the Tasmanian tiger can have a resurgence as well. Never say never!

You can learn more about different animals (including some that are in danger of extinction) and their habitats in LSC’s Eat and Be Eaten gallery.

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