In praise of the weird

Laurance, William (2011) In praise of the weird. New Scientist, 210 (2817). pp. 30-31.

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Abstract

[Extract] Last December an 8-second amateur video went viral. Shot in remote northern Tasmania, the blurry footage featured a long-tailed mammal trotting across a meadow with an oddly stilted gait. According to the film-maker, Murray McAllister, the animal was a Tasmanian tiger.

The Tasmanian tiger, or thylacine, is a wolf-sized marsupial predator that has been presumed extinct since the last known specimen died in Hobart zoo in 1936. Yet despite its apparent demise, reports of Tassie tigers refuse to die. Hundreds of sightings, many from seemingly credible observers, have been recorded, both in Tasmania and on the mainland.

When I saw the video there was something vaguely familiar about it. Then it hit me: the animal moved like a red fox. I'd raised a fox as a boy in the western US, and they have a peculiar way of trotting. Soon, others were saying the same thing. Then a faecal sample McAllister collected was analysed for its DNA: it was a red fox.

Item ID: 17438
Item Type: Article (Commentary)
ISSN: 1364-8500
Date Deposited: 05 Jul 2011 06:46
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050202 Conservation and Biodiversity @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960899 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity of Environments not elsewhere classified @ 100%
Citation Count from Web of Science Web of Science 2
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