More than 80 years ago, the Tasmanian tiger joined a troubling list: animals that became extinct in large part because of mankind. Or did it? Since 2017, the Australian government has recorded several supposed sightings of the carnivorous marsupial, also known as a thylacine, in Tasmania, an island state of Australia that was the last natural refuge of the creature. The reports range from drivers grabbing brief glances of what they describe as a Tasmanian tiger -- about the size of a large cat or wolf, with yellow-brown fur, a strong jaw and a pouch to carry its young -- to the discovery of footprints that appear to match those of the thylacine. Although no hard evidence of the Tasmanian tiger's continued existence has yet been uncovered, word of the possibility has sparked a lot of enthusiasm. The Tasmanian tiger's importance Down Under even led scientists at the Australian Museum to replicate the thylacine's DNA, in the hopes of possibly cloning it back into existence.
A quick take on Tasmania:
- Abel Tasman was the first European to come to Tasmania, in 1642; he called it Van Diemen's Land, but the island officially became Tasmania in 1856.
- Tasmania is nicknamed the "Apple Isle," either because it once was a major apple exporter or because it is shaped like the fruit.
- Despite seeming remote, Tasmania is actually closer to the equator than either Chicago or Rome is.