Thylacines (Post-1936 Sightings)

Sharon Hill

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I can't believe this got picked up by mainstream media in the US. It's non-news, but instead is a tale of boundless hope for something long gone and the delusional people who push the myth.
 

oldrover

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As Tony Healy and Paul Cropper point out in their book Out of the Shadows the Thylacine was always more plentiful in the north-east of Tasmania, they are/were not forest animals.
I've heard of Healy and Cropper but have never read anything by them. I think if anyone has said thylacines were more common in the north-east they've misunderstood the third column in Eric Guiler's 1958 collation of the bounty records, as have many others. What previous researchers have taken as capture location was in fact the address of the claimant. This has led to a disproportionate amount of bounty captures being located in early populated areas, such as the north-east.

I can only speak about 20th century capture sights but as Lordmongrove says, when these can be definitely located they are all in the west, and all in forested areas.
 

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I can't believe this got picked up by mainstream media in the US. It's non-news, but instead is a tale of boundless hope for something long gone and the delusional people who push the myth.
I have mentioned this before, but ill say it again, the caelacanth was declared extinct for many many years right up to when it was rediscovered, the thylacine we know did exist and there is a possibility (admittidly slim) that it could have survived, unlike cryptids of the bigfoot/almasty ilk, which there is no hard historic evidence of their existance, so you can never give up on a the hope an isolated population of Tasmanian wolves survived.
 

Sharon Hill

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I have mentioned this before, but ill say it again, the caelacanth was declared extinct for many many years right up to when it was rediscovered, the thylacine we know did exist and there is a possibility (admittidly slim) that it could have survived, unlike cryptids of the bigfoot/almasty ilk, which there is no hard historic evidence of their existance, so you can never give up on a the hope an isolated population of Tasmanian wolves survived.
The most obvious reason why you cannot compare the coelacanth with a thylacine is that the coelacanth is a fish, not running around in a human environment, not even coming up for air. A fish leaves no tracks, it isn't stealing your livestock, it isn't leaving poop or its remains behind. There are several other zoological reasons why this is not a valid comparison.

Tasmania is not a huge place without human habitation. Thylacines were on the decline from their maximum range before humans stepped in and dealt them the final blow. I have no doubt that thylacines are extinct. In considering their range, genetics, wildlife biology, etc., it's unreasonable to conclude they may have survived after this many decades. People have been actively looking for them and the evidence has always been relatively poor. Lately, it's been pathetically poor.

"You can never give up" is a statement about belief. It suggests you are wishing that it still exists. It's clear and understandable why people hold this view. However, there is no objective substance behind that argument. It's also not logically possible to prove a negative as you have constructed this argument (see Carl Sagan's dragon in the garage scenario). We have passed the point where it would be reasonable to hypothesize that even a small population of thylacines still exist. Not only is there no evidence, but the natural situation weighs extremely strongly against it. Therefore, I'll play the odds that they will never find a thylacine.
 

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The most obvious reason why you cannot compare the coelacanth with a thylacine is that the coelacanth is a fish, not running around in a human environment, not even coming up for air. A fish leaves no tracks, it isn't stealing your livestock, it isn't leaving poop or its remains behind. There are several other zoological reasons why this is not a valid comparison.

Tasmania is not a huge place without human habitation. Thylacines were on the decline from their maximum range before humans stepped in and dealt them the final blow. I have no doubt that thylacines are extinct. In considering their range, genetics, wildlife biology, etc., it's unreasonable to conclude they may have survived after this many decades. People have been actively looking for them and the evidence has always been relatively poor. Lately, it's been pathetically poor.

"You can never give up" is a statement about belief. It suggests you are wishing that it still exists. It's clear and understandable why people hold this view. However, there is no objective substance behind that argument. It's also not logically possible to prove a negative as you have constructed this argument (see Carl Sagan's dragon in the garage scenario). We have passed the point where it would be reasonable to hypothesize that even a small population of thylacines still exist. Not only is there no evidence, but the natural situation weighs extremely strongly against it. Therefore, I'll play the odds that they will never find a thylacine.
I used the caelacanth only as a comparison because it was declared extinct before it was rediscovered, i would however disagree with the fact that fish dont come into contact with people, the seas are more and more being depleted of fish, man has fished (according to new reports) since neanderthal times, there are very few areas of the sea that are not regularly fished, so for a species to go un-noticed for hundreds of years is unusual.
 

stu neville

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there are very few areas of the sea that are not regularly fished, so for a species to go un-noticed for hundreds of years is unusual.
Yes and no. Whereas there is trawling even mid-Ocean, the depths to which the nets sink tend to be 1500 metres at the very most (which is where the fish they want to catch all live), which while very very deep is still less than half the average depth of the Atlantic and a third that of the Pacific, so overall way more than half the oceans are left virtually undisturbed. We really have no idea what's living down there beyond what we have observed from an incredibly limited data-set. The best analogy I can think of is mapping a continent from the air and then trying to build a picture of who lives there by picking a couple of hundred fifty-metre squares dotted about, conducting a census just within those tight areas and basing your analysis on that. Whilst scientifically-speaking you should only base firm conclusions on the data you have, that doesn't necessarily preclude a wealth of as-yet undiscovered data. There are times where I disagree with Sharon, but in this case she has an entirely valid point. The ocean really is a different kettle of fish (pun intended.)
 

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Yes and no. Whereas there is trawling even mid-Ocean, the depths to which the nets sink tend to be 1500 metres at the very most (which is where the fish they want to catch all live), which while very very deep is still less than half the average depth of the Atlantic and a third that of the Pacific, so overall way more than half the oceans are left virtually undisturbed. We really have no idea what's living down there beyond what we have observed from an incredibly limited data-set. The best analogy I can think of is mapping a continent from the air and then trying to build a picture of who lives there by picking a couple of hundred fifty-metre squares dotted about, conducting a census just within those tight areas and basing your analysis on that. Whilst scientifically-speaking you should only base firm conclusions on the data you have, that doesn't necessarily preclude a wealth of as-yet undiscovered data. There are times where I disagree with Sharon, but in this case she has an entirely valid point. The ocean really is a different kettle of fish (pun intended.)
However the caelacanth was rediscovered on a trawler.

"The primitive-looking coelacanth (pronounced SEEL-uh-kanth) was thought to have gone extinct with the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. But its discovery in 1938 by a South African museum curator on a local fishing trawler fascinated the world and ignited a debate about how this bizarre lobe-finned fish fits into the evolution of land animals."

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/fish/group/coelacanths/
 

stu neville

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However the caelacanth was rediscovered on a trawler.
Only because it had come up from its usual depths and into relatively inshore waters. As is often the way, local fishermen did know about them (albeit finding them very, very rarely), but didn't think to publicise it as they didn't know they were that unusual. This "local knowledge vs scientific acceptance" motif runs right through cryptozoology. Chances are they would have shown up eventually, yes, but to this day nobody really knows how many there are or where they mostly live. Whales can literally go around the world largely undetected. In this context, you really can't compare sea and land in any meaningful way.
 

lordmongrove

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As Tony Healy and Paul Cropper point out in their book Out of the Shadows the Thylacine was always more plentiful in the north-east of Tasmania, they are/were not forest animals.
Most of that area is now cultivated farmland, i couldn't support a thylacine population. Reports were more plentiful here in times past but not now. You get the odd few now and again that sound like single animals passing through. Most reports these days are from the west of the island.
 

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However the caelacanth was rediscovered on a trawler.

"The primitive-looking coelacanth (pronounced SEEL-uh-kanth) was thought to have gone extinct with the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. But its discovery in 1938 by a South African museum curator on a local fishing trawler fascinated the world and ignited a debate about how this bizarre lobe-finned fish fits into the evolution of land animals."

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/fish/group/coelacanths/
Of note, I recall Darren Naish saying there WERE some coelacanth remains discovered after the K-Pg suspected extinction but they were not recognized for what they were. Therefore, there was evidence that it had not disappeared after all. I don't know that that's been published.

There are several good books about the coelacanth and its rediscovery. It's actually not a great example of a cryptid.
 

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Of note, I recall Darren Naish saying there WERE some coelacanth remains discovered after the K-Pg suspected extinction but they were not recognized for what they were. Therefore, there was evidence that it had not disappeared after all. I don't know that that's been published.

There are several good books about the coelacanth and its rediscovery. It's actually not a great example of a cryptid.
Im pretty sure the thylacine isn't a cryptid either :p
 

Sharon Hill

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Im pretty sure the thylacine isn't a cryptid either :p
I don't get what you mean by that. The thylacine is an animal that people say they encounter, and claim is still extant, but is recognized by science as extinct. That's a cryptid.

The coelacanth may have been known to exist (though not documented scientifically) by the local fishermen, but it did not have anywhere near the legendary and romantic status that the thylacine still does. There is a community (and businesses, maybe) that are related to the thylacine. It's well known as is the myth that it still out there. The same cannot be said ever was the case for the coelacanth. So, the thylacine clearly fits the popular description of a cryptid.
 

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The supposedly extinct Zanzibar leopard was rediscovered recently. Its bigger than a thylacine and Zanzibar is a much smaller place with much less wilderness.
Wasn't that only a 16-year gap in time from presumed extinct to caught on camera?
The thylacine was declared extinct in 1936.
 

Sharon Hill

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That makes sense.

Every case is different.
Totally agree. Pop cryptozoologists frequently tout the finding of a new species or the rediscovery of a species as a vindication for cryptozoology as a study and I can't agree with that because "every case is different".
 

lordmongrove

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Wasn't that only a 16-year gap in time from presumed extinct to caught on camera?
The thylacine was declared extinct in 1936.
Yes but that's a long time for a population of big animals to hide in a small area that crams alot of people into it.. Tasmania is much larger area and a third of the population.
 

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Yes but that's a long time for a population of big animals to hid in a small area that crams alot of people into it.. Tasmania is much larger area and a third of the population.
Ypu would need to do a calculation based on area vs population vs last documented vs last seen , for each island, maths (yes its maths for all Americans out there, short for mathamatics, note the plural lol) way beyond my capabilities.
 

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Ypu would need to do a calculation based on area vs population vs last documented vs last seen , for each island, maths (yes its maths for all Americans out there, short for mathamatics, note the plural lol) way beyond my capabilities.
It's just been done, there's a link to the paper somewhere here I think.
 

Sharon Hill

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I was able to get a copy of this article:
A retrospective assessment of 20th century thylacine populations (2016)
Authors: Stephen R Sleightholme, Cameron R Campbell
My share via Gdrive.

It provides possibly the best info on distribution. What seems clear is that some individuals may have persisted beyond 1936 (which is not unreasonable) but the fragmented possible host areas and the fact that this could be only a few individuals means that their existence beyond the 1950s is extremely unlikely. The great enthusiasm for its continued existence is unbalanced considering the remote odds.
 

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I was able to get a copy of this article:
A retrospective assessment of 20th century thylacine populations (2016)
Authors: Stephen R Sleightholme, Cameron R Campbell
My share via Gdrive.

It provides possibly the best info on distribution. What seems clear is that some individuals may have persisted beyond 1936 (which is not unreasonable) but the fragmented possible host areas and the fact that this could be only a few individuals means that their existence beyond the 1950s is extremely unlikely. The great enthusiasm for its continued existence is unbalanced considering the remote odds.
Brook et al have just released the pre-print to a further study the results of which suggest a much later date.

https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.01.18.427214v1

As I think is acknowledged in that paper if you take confirmed animals only you're looking at an extinction date around the 1930s. I'd say the best insight into the whole thing though comes from Nic Haygarth's 2017 The mth of the dedicated thylacine hunter.

https://www.eoas.info/bib/ASBS05507.htm

That poses the question of why none were recovered between August 1930 or early 1931 (depending on who you ask) and full protection in July 1936.
 

Sharon Hill

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Brook et al have just released the pre-print to a further study the results of which suggest a much later date.

https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.01.18.427214v1

As I think is acknowledged in that paper if you take confirmed animals only you're looking at an extinction date around the 1930s. I'd say the best insight into the whole thing though comes from Nic Haygarth's 2017 The mth of the dedicated thylacine hunter.

https://www.eoas.info/bib/ASBS05507.htm

That poses the question of why none were recovered between August 1930 or early 1931 (depending on who you ask) and full protection in July 1936.
No access to the latter publication.
 

EnolaGaia

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The abstract is the only portion of Haygarth's article that is publicly accessible.

The myth of the dedicated thylacine hunter: Stockman-hunter culture and the decline of the thylacine (Tasmanian tiger) in Tasmania during the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth centuries
Authors: Nic Haygarth

Abstract

IT HAS BEEN speculated that a mix of human factors and disease prompted the extinction or near-extinction of the thylacine (Thylacinus cynocephalus or Tasmanian tiger). According to the general thesis, by introducing grazing to Tasmania, Europeans disturbed and reduced thylacine habitat, destroyed thylacine food sources, introduced competing carnivores and killed countless thylacines as a stock protection measure, for sport, or for the fur trade. After these factors had severely reduced the thylacine's numbers, the onset of an epidemic disease at about the beginning of the twentieth century debilitated, extinguished or virtually extinguished the vulnerable animal. A 2013 paper departed from this thesis, by claiming that human factors alone could account for the thylacine's demise.

SOURCE: https://search.informit.org/doi/10.3316/INFORMIT.047041010462417
 

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The abstract is the only portion of Haygarth's article that is publicly accessible.

The myth of the dedicated thylacine hunter: Stockman-hunter culture and the decline of the thylacine (Tasmanian tiger) in Tasmania during the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth centuries
Authors: Nic Haygarth

Abstract

IT HAS BEEN speculated that a mix of human factors and disease prompted the extinction or near-extinction of the thylacine (Thylacinus cynocephalus or Tasmanian tiger). According to the general thesis, by introducing grazing to Tasmania, Europeans disturbed and reduced thylacine habitat, destroyed thylacine food sources, introduced competing carnivores and killed countless thylacines as a stock protection measure, for sport, or for the fur trade. After these factors had severely reduced the thylacine's numbers, the onset of an epidemic disease at about the beginning of the twentieth century debilitated, extinguished or virtually extinguished the vulnerable animal. A 2013 paper departed from this thesis, by claiming that human factors alone could account for the thylacine's demise.

SOURCE: https://search.informit.org/doi/10.3316/INFORMIT.047041010462417
Try here

https://conbio.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/am-pdf/10.1111/cobi.13186
 

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Nick Walters' 'thylacine' shots. Small animal looks ambiguous to me the big one is a pademelon. I've seen enough of them to recgongnize it. Nothing here suggests a Tasmanian wolf.
 

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Nick Walters' 'thylacine' shots. Small animal looks ambiguous to me the big one is a pademelon. I've seen enough of them to recgongnize it. Nothing here suggests a Tasmanian wolf.
It's a pity, but I think we all knew it was headed this way.

However, there is an upside: it does answer my long-term question of whatever happened to Rab C Nesbitt.
https___prod.static9.net.au_fs_2b4882f5-67b7-4fc4-bc20-aaebc96244fd.jpg
 
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