Thylacine

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The thylacine (pronounced /ˈθaɪləsaɪn/[3] THY-lə-syn, or in Australia /ˈθaɪləsiːn/[4] THYE-lə-seen, also /ˈθaɪləsɨn/[5]) (binomial name: Thylacinus cynocephalus; Greek for "dog-headed pouched one") was the largest known carnivorous marsupial of modern times. It is commonly known as the Tasmanian tiger (because of its striped back), the Tasmanian wolf, and colloquially the Tassie tiger or simply the tiger.[6] Native to continental Australia, Tasmania and New Guinea, it is thought to have become extinct in the 20th century. It was the last extant member of its genus, Thylacinus, although several related species have been found in the fossil record dating back to the early Miocene.

The thylacine had become extremely rare or extinct on the Australian mainland before European settlement of the continent, but it survived 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 contributory factors may have been disease, the introduction of dogs, and human encroachment into its habitat. Despite its official classification as extinct, sightings are still reported, though none proven.

Like the tigers and wolves of the Northern Hemisphere, from which it obtained two of its common names, the thylacine was an apex predator. As a marsupial, it was not closely related to these placental mammals, but because of convergent evolution it displayed the same general form and adaptations. Its closest living relative is thought to be either the Tasmanian devil or numbat.

The thylacine was one of only two marsupials to have a pouch in both sexes (the other being the water opossum). The male thylacine had a pouch that acted as a protective sheath, covering the male's external reproductive organs while he ran through thick brush.

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