By ImpurestCheese 51 Comments
Last week it was too hot, now it’s too wet what with six months of rainfall falling on the UK in just twenty four hours. Cooler temperatures are good for last week’s creature, the Leatherback Turtle that plays by its own physiological rules. This week we have a tiger striped issue requested by @jaycool2. Hope you guys enjoy!!
Issue #180 - Thylacine
Kingdom – Animalia
Phylum – Chordata
Class – Mammalia
Order – Dasyuromorphia
Family - Thylacinidae
Genus – Thylacinus
Species – cynochepalus
Related Species - The Thylacine was the last surviving member of the family Thylacinidae. Its closest surviving relative is the insectivorous Numbat (Myrmecobius fasciatus) (1)
Range - Thylacines ranged across most of Tasmania, and at one time were found across Eastern Australia and Papua New Guinea.
Gone but Note Forgotten
The Thylacine was the largest of the modern carnivorous marsupials, with a body length of up to 130cm and an average weight of 20kg, with male individuals generally being a bit larger than females. Due to its dog like appearance, and the black stripes on its dun back, this species received the names ‘Tasmanian Wolf’ and ‘Tasmanian Tiger’ from the first European settlers who saw them. Unlike wolves and big cats, the Thylacine had an awkward gait, and instead of running after prey it performed a strange hopping motion akin to that of a kangaroo.
Thylacines were carnivores that specialised in hunting small games from ambush, with bandicoots and possums probably making up most of their diet (2). Prey was dispatched with a bite to the neck, and the Thylacine possessed a very wide gait, reported to be able to open its mouth up to an 80° angle. Native predators were likely non-existent, but the species competed with food with Dingoes (Canis lupus dingo) and later when Europeans arrives, the Red Fox (Vulpus vulpus), and was targeted by humans (Homo sapiens sapiens) who saw the species as a pest and a dangerous threat to sheep (Ovis aries) farms, and were offered bounties of £1 (equivalent to £100 in modern times) per head by the government. It was likely a combination of all these factors that led to the species extinction in the wild in 1930.
There is some evidence that Thyacines bred all year round, but little is known regarding courtship or gestation period. Mothers generally gave birth to four joeys that stayed in the pouch for three months before emerging into a lair, where they would stay until they were old enough to fend for themselves. Interestingly, the male Thylacine had a pouch too, to protect his genitals while moving through the brush, and is one of only two marsupials where both genders to possess pouches, the other being the relatively unrelated Yapok or Water Opossum (Chrionectes minimus) from South America (3).
Five (we failed) to Save #17 - Extinct Species
Life is constantly at war, with each species struggling to survive from generation to generation. This constant struggle is made harder by the spread of humanity and our species need to control environments for our own purposes. While this trait isn’t necessary evil, and in fact helped our ancestors survive and thrive in the distant past, nowadays it often pushes those species we don’t have a need for, or find undesirable aside, often to near endangerment or extinction. The species covered below are all recent additions, after the introduction of nature conservation in 1820 by Sir James Ranald Martin (4), to the list of species driven to extinction.
American Chestnut Moth (Ectoedemia castaneae) Status: Declared Extinct in 2006
Cause of Extinction: Disease - While humanity can be blamed for many extinctions, it only has an indirect role in the demise of the American Chestnut Moth. This species fed almost exclusively on American Chestnuts (Castanea dentata), a species that itself was suffering from a fungal parasite known as Chestnut Blight (Cryphonectria parasitica) for over a century. The blight itself was native to Italy, and managed to reach the continental US in the early 1900s by stowing away on timber imports from Europe.
Guadalupe Caracara (Caracara lutosa) Status: Declared Extinct in 1903
Cause of Extinction: Persecution - Described as evil and vicious by early observers, this once common bird was hunted due to the fear that it would mercilessly kill livestock, with the population going from plentiful in 1867 to eleven individuals in 1897. While most of the other species mentioned became extinct by accident or mismanagement, humanity went out of its way to make the Guadalupe Caracara extinct. In a rare case of co-extinction the parasitic louse Actuiforns caracarensis which only fed on this species, was also declared extinct alongside its host.
Japanese Sealion (Zalophus japonicus) Status: Declared Extinct in 1974
Cause of Extinction: Overhunting - Harvested for meat, fur and blubber (for use in lamps), it is estimated that before hunting was banned in 1940, that trawlers had harvested over 16,000 animals since the beginning of the century. Destruction of habitat due to submarine and surface warfare during the Second World War further threatened the species, with the last indidivual accidently killed in a fishing net in the early 1970s.
Mexican Dace (Evarra bustamantei) Status: Declared Extinct in 1983
Cause of Extinction: Habitat Destruction - Possibly one of the first victims of global warming, the Mexican Dace coincided with the drying of the water bodies it inhabited. The cause of this drying was twofold; dry conditions had reduced water level, and forced human populations to use what little water was left for drinking and for agricultural purposes.
Round Island Burrowing Boa (Bolyeria multocarinata) Status: Declared Extinct in 1975
Cause of Extinction: Soil Erosion - A meter long burrowing constrictor, the Round Island Boa is one of the many species that became extinct due to mismanagement of its environment. Overgrazing of land by goats (Capra aegargus) and rabbits (Orcyctolagus cuniculus) led to the loss of nesting areas for the snake as what remained of the soil the species burrowed through blew away.
1 - www.arkive.org
2 - https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110831210058.htm
3 - Dixon, Joan. "Fauna of Australia chap.20 vol.1b" Australian Biological Resources Study (ABRS). 8 January 2009
4 - Stebbing, E.P (1922)The forests of India vol. 1, pp. 72-81
1 - http://nnimgt-a.akamaihd.net/transform/v1/crop/frm/M9js8ZNF8WfwDLANPpFpug/9e1f3505-025f-436f-8822-183996480428.jpg/r0_262_3189_2055_w1200_h678_fmax.jpg
2 - https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-B_3qRtPPYUs/URE7i8KbqhI/AAAAAAAAPU8/R1o_ouI2yAY/s400/thylacine_01.jpg
3 - http://d3lp4xedbqa8a5.cloudfront.net/s3/digital-cougar-assets/AusGeo/2013/09/11/7688/thylacine-tasmanian-tiger-2.jpg
4 - http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-uizNbp_FqBA/U78NRfiHwpI/AAAAAAAANTk/ilSc913a2dY/s1600/caracara-guadalupe-ejemplar-conservado.jpg
5 - https://www.enkivillage.org/s/upload/images/2014/12/90a8513441bc37e1f8bc0d23ea957347.jpg
I’m not going to lie, I spent most of the time writing this issue fighting back the tears. Over the next two weeks we have requests from @ficopedia and @ig-88 which should be far happier. Until then though make sure to critic, comment and suggest future issues as well as making sure you check out past issues in Impurest’s Bestiary.