Extinct Tasmanian Tiger Really Alive?

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The Tasmanian tiger was listed as extinct nearly 80 years ago, but now a team of British naturalists are on the prowl to prove that the species is still alive, the Guardian U.K. reports.

Thylacinus cynocephalus. Credit: Wikimedia

Properly named a thylacine, the "Tassie tiger" is the largest known carnivorous marsupial of modern times. The stripes on its back resemble those of the jungle cat after which it is named. Though the last known thylacine died at Hobart Zoo in Tasmania on Sept. 7, 1936, some believe the animal is alive and well in the island state's remote northwestern region.

The British researchers searching for the species are part of the Centre for Fortean Zoology, based in Devon, England. They claim to have spoken with several credible witnesses who allege to have seen the thylacine. The group is performing a DNA analysis on feces it found to determine if it belongs to the animal, which was hunted to extinction (or possibly only near-extinction) by European settlers for fear it would kill livestock.

While the Tasmanian government has stated there is "no conclusive evidence" that the thylacine still exists, the Centre for Fortean Zoology team is scouring the Tasmanian topography in hopes of gathering more evidence to prove the animal still roams. No thylacine paw prints or dead thylacines have been found at this point.

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