Thylacine Sightings Hoax

All Tasmania has been abuzz over reported sightings of the extinct marsupial, the thylacine, or Tasmanian Tiger in Arumpo, New South Wales. The carnivorous, dog-like animal had been listed as extinct, the last known individual having died in a Washington D.C. zoo in 1933. But a reported sighting in the Australian town of Arumpo, a small town primarily known as a mining center for bentonite, a type of clay used as an animal feed amendment or for kitty litter, raised hopes worldwide that the animal might still exist. Thylacines were a long jawed, dog-like marsupial, a creature that carries it’s young in a pouch like a kangaroo, that had diverged from it’s common possum ancestor when the Australian continent  separated from mainland Asia hundreds of thousands of years ago. They existed mostly in Tasmania, a small breakaway island that also gives us such anomalies as the wombat, platypus and Tasmanian devil. The thylacine gained it’s name Tasmanian Tiger from both its rapacious appetite for flesh as well as the unique dark stripes it had on its hindquarters that bore a strong resemblance to a tiger’s stripes. It’s extermination coincided with the blossoming of Australia’s livestock industry. Ranchers shot them by the thousands.

Once the report came in from Arumpo, sightings became common throughout New South Wales and subsequently, Australia.  The sightings gave hope that the once extinct animal had made a comeback. Those hopes were dashed when it was revealed that a pair of teenage boys had painted a tame dingo that was a household pet in the nearby village of Pooncarie with a set of stripes. The dingo, had a habit of running away for days at a time, often visiting the refuse tips of Arumpo, where it was spotted. The boys, whose names have not been revealed as their deed was merely a harmless prank and there are no penalties for painting an animal in the province, thought it a great joke and caught and embellished several other tame animals while on a family road trip. Dingoes are tamed as a common pet in Australia. The sightings spread well beyond New South Wales in a manner similar to the way Bigfoot sightings spread throughout the continental US after the hoax video from the Pacific Northwest was aired in the early sixties. Researchers who had hoped the animal had returned will have to wait for genetic manipulation techniques to advance to permit it.

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