From Mike Wehner at Yahoo News:
Multiple reports of Tasmanian Tiger sightings are starting to flow in from everyday citizens in Australia. Several people have recently claimed they’ve spotted the animal…
The marsupial Thylacine, believed extinct, is really much more like a wolf than a tiger, in appearance and ecological role.
Australians have occasionally claimed to have spotted the dog-like animals over the years, but the sightings were typically rare and attributed to nothing more than misidentification. That’s all changed now, as several “plausible sightings” are beginning to give life to the theory that the animal never actually went extinct at all.
Now, scientists in Queensland, Australia, are taking action in the hopes of actually finding evidence that the Tiger is still around. If confirmed, it would be an absolutely monumental discovery, considering the animal’s history. The team plans to set up cameras in areas where reported sightings have taken place in the hopes of confirming the claims. More.
Sure, could be hoax, wishful thinking, or crowd psychology. But surprisingly, a number of animals believed extinct have turned up again in recent years. Extinction may take longer than we suppose.
It’s striking how much the thylacines behave like dogs. Michael Denton has noted that Australia largely replicated in marsupials an ecology that would be familiar in North America among placentals, an instance of convergent evolution.
On a related note, the corpse of a cougar (North American mountain lion) was found in Ontario province in Canada:
“We approached the animal and we realized that it was 100 per cent a mountain lion by the colour, the giant teeth and paws, and of course the long tail, lying dead on a patch of snow partially frozen,” Weist said in a statement to The Weather Network. “The cat had porcupine quills in its shoulder and cheek and had looked really thin and starved.”
Such sightings of the Ontario cougar, once believed extinct, have become common.
It’s worth considering that these predators generally survive by being elusive, even in the good times. Maybe growth in numbers is the main way we find out about their continued existence. So let’s keep watching for that Tasmanian wolf.
See also: Lazarus species: animals listed as extinct that turned up again.
Evolution appears to converge on goals—but in Darwinian terms, is that possible?
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