Many people still believe the Tasmanian tiger (Thylacinus cynocephalus) survives in the wilds of Tasmania, even though the species was declared extinct over eighty years ago. Sightings and reports of the elusive carnivorous marsupial, which was the top predator on the island, pop-up almost as frequently as those of Bigfoot in North America, but to date no definitive evidence has emerged of its survival. Yet, a noted cryptozoologist (one who searches for hidden animals), Dr. Karl Shuker, wrote recently that tiger hunters should perhaps turn their attention to a different island: New Guinea.
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The Tasmanian tiger, also known as the thylacine, once populated much of Tasmanian and mainland Australia—where it is also still searched for—but few know that the animal was present on New Guinea as well. Its prehistoric presence there first came to light in 1960 when archeologists discovered the lower jaw of a Tasmanian tiger.
"Further confirmed fossil remains, dating at over 2 million years old, have subsequently been found on New Guinea; and also in later years, unconfirmed sightings of thylacine-like beasts have been reported from both Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Irian Jaya (the western, Indonesian half of New Guinea)," Shuker told mongabay.com.
A specimen of the Tasmanian tiger in the Natural History Museum at Oslo, Norway. Photo by: L. Shyamal.
While Tasmanian tigers are believed to have died out in New Guinea at the end of the Pleistocene, Shuker believes there's a chance a population still survives on the mountainous island, which contains some of the world's least-explored terrestrial habitats.