Thursday 1 September 2011

new research on thylacine

Tasmanian tiger's jaws were too weak to kill sheep
By Victoria Gill Science reporter, BBC Nature
At the end of the 19th Century, the thylacine had a price on its head. The strange marsupial carnivore, which became extinct in 1936, was thought to kill sheep. Sheep farming was the backbone of the Australian economy, and the government duly set up a bounty scheme to exterminate the species. But a new study has now revealed that the marsupial carnivore's jaws were too weak to snare a struggling adult sheep. The findings are reported in the Journal of Zoology. As well as revealing the injustice of its being hunted, the study also suggests that the animal's diet contributed significantly to its demise. "They would need to hunt a lot of small animals to survive," explained lead researcher Marie Attard from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Sydney. "So just small disturbances to the ecosystem - such as those resulting from the way European settlers altered the land - would have reduced their odds of survival."Thursday marks the 75th anniversary of the death of what is believed to have been the last remaining thylacine, named Ben. The animal was kept at Hobart Zoo in Tasmania.
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