Tasmanian Tiger, Declared Extinct More Than 80 Years Ago, Recently Sighted Several Times

Tasmanian tiger, thought to be extinct, has been sighted in Australia.
The Tasmanian tiger was declared extinct in 1936. Getty

The Tasmanian tiger, a large, striped marsupial, has been sighted several times in Australia, despite being declared extinct more than eight decades ago.

Newly released reports from the Australian government show there have been eight reported sightings of the Tasmanian tiger, or thylacine, over the past three years.

The most recent was two months ago, according to Tasmania's Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment.

Thylacines were believed to have become extinct after the last known animal in captivity died in 1936. They have yellowish brown fur, powerful jaws and pouches to carry their young.

One of the reported sightings occurred in February, when two people visiting Tasmania from the Australian mainland reported seeing a thylacine walk onto a road. 

The animal "turned and looked at the vehicle a couple of times" and "was in clear view for 12 to 15 seconds," the report said. Both people in the car "are 100% certain that the animal they saw was a thylacine."

Tamanian tigers have nearly mythological status on the island. The carnivores are the only members of the Thylacinidae family to survive into modern times. They were killed in the thousands by colonizing sheep farmers from Europe. 

In 2002, scientists at the Australian Museum were able to replicate thylacine DNA, thereby beginning a process that could lead to reintroducing the species via cloning technology.

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