A Survey of Thylacinus Cynocephalus: The Tasmanian Tiger

Table of Content

Taxonomy and Ancestry

The Tasmanian Tiger was one of the marsupial carnivorous animals living in the island of Tasmania in Australia. Thylacine was an exceptional animal and shared similar characteristics with other carnivorous animals such dogs and wolves in behavior and anatomical structures. (Menzies, et al., 2012)

The Tasmanian Tiger is animal part of the Kingdom Animalia, Phylum Chordata, Subphylum Vertebrata, Infraphylum Gnathostomata, Superclass Tetrapoda, Class Mammalia, Subclass Theria, Infraclass Metatheria, Order Dasyuromorphia, Family Thylacinidae, Genus Thylacinus and its Species name is Thylacinus cynocephalus or as known differently as Thylacine. (Nowak 1991)

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Anatomy and Physiology

Thylacine had similar physical characteristics with dogs and it looked like a big-headed dog with black stripes on its back and an inelastic tail. According to the understanding of its scientific name, it means an elongated body of a body with the head structure of a wolf accompanied with big ears. (Tasmanian Government; Department of primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment.)

From the records of the past examinations, it has been measured that its body was about 180 cm from nose to tail tip, its distance from his shoulder to the ground was at about 58 cm and his normal body weight was nearly 30 kg. Its fur was interesting and soft and had about 13-20 black stripes from its shoulders to the end of the tail. (Tasmanian Government; Department of primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment.)

Carnivorous have a short digestive tract. The Tasmanian tiger didn’t have a caecum, but its stomach was composed of different muscles helping it to expand anytime. The stomach has more curves and is kind of similar with the stomach of primates. The villi-like structures are really long and help in the absorption of materials need from the organism. (Tasmanian Government; Department of primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment)

Ecological Niche

From the past records, scientists have concluded that thylacine had no specific ways how to attack their preys. The only tactic they use as the other carnivorous is waiting for the prey to be in a convenient position and then jumping over it and attacking. The Tasmanian tiger can eat any type of food and they prefer to be fed usually at night or early in the morning. Referring to the last evidences, it is confirmed that they moved from the coast to very large hills. One of their favourite locations to live is supposed to be with a wide range of plant communities. (Walton et al. 1989)


Thylacine was considered to be a timid and silent animal at normal, but when feeling in danger agitated or enthusiastic, they made wolf-like barks. In cases that they were hunting preys, they made the sound of a shooting gun repeatedly. The tasmanian have tried to stay away from human contact. Its name tiger, didn’t mean that they were aggressive; they had usually a calm nature and had a developed taste and smell senses. It was considered to be a really speedy species. During the time they stayed in captivity, were quiet and didn’t impose fear. (Tasmanian Government; Department of primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment.)

Developmental Biology and Life History

According to the data gathered from previous years, the longest period of time that a tasmanian tiger has been kept in captivity is recorded to be 8 years and 5 months. On the other hand, when living in their natural habitats, their lifespan goes from 12-14 years. Unfortunately, there are no data to represent the growth of the juveniles or the age when they are considered to be mature. ( Walton et al. 1989)

Scientists have specified that the duration that tasmanian tigers stayed in the marsupium is at about 3 months. (Le Souef et al. 1926) There was found a similarity in the marsupium life stage duration with one of its family members, the Tasmanian Devil, that lives in that stage for nearly 130-140 days. (Guler, 1985)

After observations, the baby species were indicated to be about 7.5 mm of linear measure, deprived of any skin/body color and their fur hadn’t started to grow. (Boardman, 1945) According to the data gathered, there is no report to show if they had a specific time of the year when they started reproducing and having baby organisms to carry in their marsupium. (Watson et al. 1989) However, during the time they were kept in captivity, they never mated.

Anthropogenic Impact

Thylacine is still considered to be an amazing animal, even though it couldn’t make it till nowadays. Thylacine was thought to be one of the most colossal hunters not only in Australia, but in the world. Relating to the information taken from different studies conducted, it comes that the final species of this kind died in captivity in 1936. There are reviewed to be multiple reasons causing this extinction. Scientists have still left over many questions regarding this peak marsupial predator. New data has been gathered and it is said that the extinction of the thylacine came after the of appearance of a new predator, the dingo, in Australia around 3500 BP. The dingoes or Canis lupus dingo, are smaller in size that the thylancinies and this is one of the reasons why reseachers believe this affirmation is ambiguous. In addition, human impact is thought to be another reason too. Human society with its revolutions in technology, its growth and effect on the natural habitats and climate changes of certain population of organisms reinforced its disappearance. The Tasmanian tiger species barely made it out to survive till nowadays. This is why the thylacine has no evolutionary fitness within the Kingdom Animalia. (Fillios,2012)

Literature Cited

  1. Boardman, W. (1945). Some points on the external morphology of the pouch young of the marsupial Thylacinus cynocephalus. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 70: 1–8
  2. Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment. (2014, November 20). Retrieved November 29, 2018, from https://dpipwe.tas.gov.au/wildlife-management/fauna-of-tasmania/mammals/carnivorous-marsupials-and-bandicoots/tasmanian-tiger
  3. Fillios, M. (2012, February 22). The impact of the dingo on the thylacine in Holocene Australia. Retrieved November 29, 2018, from https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00438243.2012.646112
  4. Guiler, E.R. (1985). Thylacine: The Tragedy of the Tasmanian Tiger. Oxford University Press : Melbourne 207 pp.
  5. Menzies, B. R., Renfree, M. B., Heider, T., Mayer, F., Hildebrandt, T. B., & Pask, A. J. (2012). Limited Genetic Diversity Preceded Extinction of the Tasmanian Tiger. PLoS ONE,7(4). Doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0035433
  6. Walton, D. W., & Richardson, B. J. (1989). Fauna of Australia. Volume 1B, Mammalia. Canberra: Australian Govt. Pub. Service.

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A Survey of Thylacinus Cynocephalus: The Tasmanian Tiger. (2021, Nov 24). Retrieved from


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