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Benjamin, the last known thylacine died in captivity on September 7 in 1936, having been neglected by her keepers (it is widely accepted that Ben was actually female). There have been thousands of unauthenticated sightings in the decades since Ben died. The most credible of recent years were both by park rangers - one in 1982, and a second in 1990. However, as no sightings have been proved, the animal is believed to have been extinct for over 75 years. Thylacines were hunted to extinction - a bounty was paid on their scalps as they attacked livestock when it was introduced to Tasmania by farmers. Ironically, in 1936, the species was finally protected by law in Tasmania. Alas, too late.
I know I am one of many who hope that they are still out there, hiding in the dense wilderness in Tasmania. There are an extraordinary number of people intent on proving this (and if they succeed, my entry in the extinct animal contest will be void, but I'd rather see thylacines alive!). While many people hope they are never found because they think that would spell the end of them - I'd like to see them found, and for their existence to spell the end of logging of old growth forest in Tasmania.
But on to the animal itself...
Thylacines look rather wolf-like, but are actually more closely related to a kangaroo than any other species. Old black and white footage shows this - the muscular roo-like tail in particular, but they also have a roo shaped face to a large degree. Their mouths are incredible - they had almost a flip top head: they could open their jaws to 164 degrees. They were marsupials, but unlike any other marsupial, their pouch opened backwards. They are believed to have lived in pairs and family groups, and they had very striking stripes on their backs, earning them the name of 'tiger' despite having little in common with any kind of cat.
This design is a little wacky... but I was fascinated by the shapes created by their stripes being pushed together (this is one of a number of variations on the theme that I created...). I've used a sepia tone because it feels historically correct - there are no colour images of thylacines - only of their skins. This design was created using an archival image found online. I'd like to credit the photographer but I couldn't find anyone to credit. All the photographs and footage available are in black and white. And the orange? Hope.
I've fallen in love with thylacines over the past two weeks, and I don't think I've run out of inspiration yet... so there might well be more thylacine prints to come...