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Tasmanian Tiger

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The Tasmanian tiger, Thylacinus cynocephalus, was a large, carnivorous (meat-eating) marsupial that is probably extinct. Also called a thylacine, it is not closely related to the tiger.

Habitat and Extinction: The Tasmanian tiger lived in dry eucalyptus forests, wetlands, and grasslands in continental Australia, Tasmania, and New Guinea. It went extinct in mainland Australia about 2,000 years ago due to competition from dingoes. In Tasmania, the Tasmanian tiger went extinct in 1936 after being killed in large numbers by sheep farmers who settled in Tasmania (the Tasmanian tiger ate a lot of sheep). The last known Tasmanian tiger, named Benjamin, died in captivity at the Hobart Zoo. Despite its supposed extinction, there are a few unconfirmed Tasmanian tiger sightings each year in Tasmania.

Anatomy: The Tasmanian tiger was 6 feet (1.8 m) long, including the tail, and weighed about 65 pounds (30 kg). This mammal had light brown fur with a series of black stripes along the back from the base of the tail almost to the shoulders. The tail was long and stiff; it could not wag like the tail of a dog. The skull was large and its jaws could open 120 degrees, wider than any other mammal.

Diet: The Tasmanian tiger was a carnivore who hunted at night and at dusk and dawn. It ate wallabies, rabbits, sheep, poultry, goats, and other animals. It was a solitary hunter who used its keen sense of smell to find its prey. Although it wasn't a fast runner, it had great stamina, and pursued its prey until the victim was exhausted.

Reproduction: Females had a rear-facing pouch in which the tiny immature young lived for many months, drinking the female's milk.

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