78 years ago today, the last thylacine, or “Tasmanian tiger”, died in a zoo. It was a carnivorous marsupial (one of only two marsupial species in which both sexes had pouches), and you can read all about it at The Thylacine Museum. There’s also some photos and information on Wikipedia, including this:
The thylacine had become extremely rare or extinct on the Australian mainland before British settlement of the continent, but it survived on the island of Tasmania along with several other endemic species, including theTasmanian devil. Intensive hunting encouraged by bounties is generally blamed for its extinction, but other contributing factors may have been disease, the introduction of dogs, and human encroachment into its habitat. Despite its official classification as extinct, sightings are still reported, though none have been conclusively proven.
Surviving evidence suggests that it was a relatively shy, nocturnal creature with the general appearance of a medium-to-large-size dog, except for its stiff tail and abdominal pouch (which was reminiscent of a kangaroo) and a series of dark transverse stripes that radiated from the top of its back (making it look a bit like a tiger).
His (or her, as we’re unsure of the sex) name was Benjamin, and, remarkably, there’s a bit of video to show us what the species looked like.
A bit about Benjamin from The Tylacine Museum:
Some sightings of thylacines are still reported (but unconfirmed), and there’s a $250,000 reward for good evidence that the species still exists. I strongly doubt it, so let us mourn the loss of Benjamin as we mourned the loss of Martha, the last passenger pigeon, who died on Sept. 1, 1914.
h/t: Ross Barnett via Matthew Cobb