Thylacine, Tasmania (USNM 155407)

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The Smithsonian Institution’s Division of Mammals (http://vertebrates.si.edu/mammals/) houses many marsupials in its scientific collections.

This specimen, USNM 155407 (http://collections.nmnh.si.edu/search/mammals/?irn=7255558), is a male thylacine, also known as the Tasmanian Wolf, (Thylacinus cynocephalus) from Tasmania, Australia. This specimen was collected by F. W. Goding in 1909. The thylacine had become very rare or extinct on the Australian mainland prior to European settlement of the continent, but survived on the island of Tasmania until the 1930s.  A great example of convergent evolution, the thylacine displayed many similarities to the dog family, despite the fact that all placental mammals (including dogs and humans) are more closely related to each other than any is to the thylacine. The last known thylacine was captured in 1933 and sent to the Hobart Zoo where it survived until 1936. Official protection of the species was introduced by the Tasmanian government 59 days before the last known specimen died in captivity. No conclusive evidence has been found to support the thylacine’s continued existence, despite reported sightings.

This is a CT scan of the mandible of USNM 155407. These three-dimensional scans are made publicly available through the generous support of the Smithsonian 2.0 Fund, provided from the annual gifts of the Smithsonian National Board to the Secretary to use at his discretion (http://smithsonian20.si.edu/fund.html), and the Smithsonian Collections Care and Preservation Fund.  

The main goal of this joint initiative between the Human Origins Program and the Division of Mammals is to make the NMNH's scientific collections available in 3D for education and research.