For all my life, it’s been thought that Tasmanian tigers have long been extinct. But researchers are preparing for a large-scale investigation into the possibility that, after recent sightings, the small Australian mammals are still quite alive.
The odds are stacked against them. According to one study conducted by biologist Colin Carlson, there’s only about a 1 in 1.6 trillion chance that thylacines continue to secretively exist.
Researchers for over 100 years have been compiling any and all evidence that the animals still exist, from physical evidence to high-quality sightings. This data was run through a statistical model that reasoned the 1 in 1.6 trillion chance that they’re still alive.
“The search for the thylacine, much like similar efforts to “rediscover” the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker and other recently extinct charismatic species, is likely to be fruitless,” the study states. “Especially given that persistence on Tasmania would have been no guarantee the species could reappear in regions that had been unoccupied for centuries.”
The last known Tasmanian tiger died in 1936 at Hobart Zoo in Tasmania. It’s possible the animal hung on in the wild until the 1950s.
Reported sightings aren’t at all uncommon on both the mainland of Australia and in Tasmania. Recently some grainy footage surfaced of something that looked a bit like the elusive animal in South West Victoria. Many have dismissed the footage as a hoax.
With any luck, this animal is actually alive and well and their numbers can be built back up.