|A pair of thylacines in the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., c. 1903|
|Historic thylacine range in Tasmania (in green)|
The thylacine (// THY-lə-seen, or // THY-lə-syne, also //;) (Thylacinus cynocephalus) is an extinct carnivorous marsupial that was native to the Australian mainland and the islands of Tasmania and New Guinea. It was the largest known carnivorous marsupial in the world prior to its extinction, evolving about 2 million years ago. The last known live animal was captured in 1930 in Tasmania. It is commonly known as the Tasmanian tiger (because of its striped lower back) or the Tasmanian wolf (because of its canid-like characteristics). Various Aboriginal Tasmanian names have been recorded, such as coorinna, kanunnah, cab-berr-one-nen-er, loarinna, laoonana, can-nen-ner and lagunta, while kaparunina is used in the constructed language of Palawa kani.
The thylacine was relatively shy and nocturnal, with the general appearance of a medium-to-large-size dog, except for its stiff tail and abdominal pouch similar to that of a kangaroo, and dark transverse stripes that radiated from the top of its back, reminiscent of a tiger. The thylacine was a formidable apex predator, though exactly how large its prey animals were is disputed. Because of convergent evolution, it displayed an anatomy and adaptations similar to the tiger and wolf of the Northern Hemisphere, despite being unrelated. Its closest living relatives are the Tasmanian devil and the numbat. The thylacine was one of only two marsupials known to have a pouch in both sexes: the other (still extant) species is the water opossum from Central and South America. The pouch of the male thylacine served as a protective sheath, covering the external reproductive organs.
The thylacine had become locally extinct on both New Guinea and the Australian mainland before British settlement of the continent, but its last stronghold was on the island of Tasmania, along with several other endemic species, including the Tasmanian devil. Intensive hunting encouraged by bounties is generally blamed for its extinction, but other contributing factors may have been disease, the introduction of dogs, and human encroachment into its habitat.
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