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Re: "The Tasmanian Tiger May Live Again"

Ann & Randy wrote:
> Excuse me but isn't it quite likely that the Thylacine still lives in small
> numbers in Tasmania as many people have seen it since it was declared
> extinct?  Wouldn't it be less expensive to try to find the remaining
> thylacines and protect them then it would be to clone them?

Apparently some scientists have a pretty good idea where they could
be, although they're not telling anyone. I did my masters degree
in Geographic Information Systems and computer modelling, where we
learned of a GIS project concerning the Thylacine. As many sightings
as possible were gathered together and only the most reliable
were used to produce a sighting distribution layer in the GIS.
Then, using knowledge of their habitat from actual observations
when they were still common, a predictive model based on environmental
conditions was created with the GIS. The predictive model and the
sightings layer were extremely well correlated. The article went on to
say that the actual map database would not be made available do to
concerns about gun-toting trophy hunters.

There is a theory that most of the Thylacines killed were sub-adult
animals, pushed out of their prime habitat and forced to come into
contact with humans due to competition with the experienced and
highly territorial adults. From the pre-1930s observations of Thylacines
that I've read they seem to have been solitary hunters, chasing down
macropods until the prey were exhausted, much as I've seen dingos do
in outback New South Wales (and indeed dingos seem to have driven
Thylacines into extinction on the mainland, probably due to
direct competition).

There is one account of Thylacine behaviour that is quite interesting,
from a man who lived early this century / late last century who
had one as a pet and lived in a remote part of Tasmania.
Apparently he knew when to put the billy on to make tea for 
approaching guests when his Thylacine climbed into the rafters 
of his hut to hide. About half an hour later visitors would 
indeed arrive. Some time after they left the Thylacine would
climb down from the rafters and resume doing whatever it was that
domesticated Thylacines did. It seems that they had exceptional
senses and prefered to avoid humans wherever possible. It certainly
paints a picture of a solitary and wary creature, exactly the sort
that could be mistaken as extinct. It wouldn't be the first
native Australian animal to disappear for decades and be presumed
extinct only to turn up again.

        Dann Pigdon
        GIS Archaeologist
        Melbourne, Australia

        Australian Dinosaurs: