One of the most sought after mystery creatures of modern times is the Tasmanian Tiger, a creature which once roamed the wilds of Australia and the island of Tasmania. It is almost legendary in its native land, and although purportedly extinct, there have been numerous sightings, photographs, and video footage put forward over the years that seem to show that it is perhaps not gone after all. Some of the most remarkable of these are the various videos that have come forth which allegedly show the mysterious creatures very much alive.
Considered to be the largest marsupial carnivore of modern times, the thylacine (Thylacinus cynocephalus), often commonly called the Tasmanian tiger or Tasmanian wolf, was a medium-sized, dog-like predator native to continental Australia, Tasmania, and New Guinea, which was notable for its long, pointed snout, bold stripes on its lower back and hindquarters, and its distinctive, thick-based tapered tail. It is interesting that one of the most sought after cryptids of the modern era also originally started as a bit of a cryptid. Long known of by the native Aborigines, who called it many indigenous names, it was first described by outsiders in the 17th century by explorers as a tiger-like beast or hyena-dog creature, and in later years it would be the focus of intense scientific scrutiny. It was eventually officially described by science in 1808 as Didelphis cynocephala, or also as the “zebra-wolf,” before later being categorized by its modern taxonomy in 1824 by Dutch ornithologist and zoologist Coenraad Jacob Temminck.
The thylacine was already considered extinct on the Australian mainland and New Guinea long before British colonization began in the early 1800s, mostly due to climate change and competition from humans and the introduced dingoes, although it managed to survive up to as late as the 1930s on the island of Tasmania before it was wiped out by rampant hunting and bounties placed by sheep farmers who saw them as a bloodthirsty threat to their livestock, as well as through disease and loss of habitat. Throughout the late 1800s and early 1900s the thylacine’s numbers dramatically dwindled until the last known living specimen died at the Hobart Zoo in September of 1936.
Although this was the last confirmed living specimen of the Tasmanian tiger, it has long been thought to have survived well past this date, and there have been unconfirmed sightings of the creatures ever since, all the way up to the present day. Indeed, possible surviving specimens of the thylacine have become a sort of a Holy Grail in the world of cryptozoology, and it has become almost legendary in its reputation as a highly sought after potentially surviving extinct animal, consuming numerous groups and researchers devoted to finding them, who have scoured the wilds obsessively looking for one. Although there have been numerous alleged sightings of thylacines, physical or photographic evidence has been harder to come across, but not nonexistent. However, just as with more well-known cryptids such as Bigfoot, this evidence can often be controversial and debated to say the least, with physical evidence deemed circumstantial and photographic evidence often blurry or indistinct.
Some of the more intriguing pieces of evidence put forward for the potential survival of the thylacine are the occasional pieces of video footage that have been offered. One of the earlier and most famous of these was a clip taken in 1973 by a couple named Liz and Gary Doyle while they were staying at a campground on the mainland in South Australia. The footage seems to show a quadrupedal dog-like creature run through the campground, which appears to be very reminiscent of a thylacine in both appearance, such as shape, general body proportions, and apparent striping, as well as its posture and unusual movements.
There have of course been skeptics, and the so-called “Doyle footage” has been criticized by some as showing merely a fox or a regular dog. One problem is that there is no known footage of a verified thylacine actually running, so it is impossible to tell of the creature in the odd footage is consistent with how the gait of an actual specimen would look. There has also been the skepticism aimed at the fact that the footage was allegedly taken on the mainland, where the thylacine is thought to have gone thoroughly gone extinct around 2,000 years ago. However, there was strangely a spate of thylacine sightings in South Australia at around the time this video was taken, speculated to have possibly been linked to deforestation due to farming, and the animal in the video seems to be unique enough in appearance to be at least worth looking at as possibly genuine. The Doyle footage has been debated and picked apart for decades, with no concrete resolution in sight. You can see the footage here and see what you think, and there is a very detailed analysis of the footage over at the Where Light Meets Dark website.
In 1995 there was another rather interesting piece of footage taken of a purported thylacine by an elderly couple near Charleville, Queensland. The video was apparently taken by the couple on June 25, 1995 and they would later explain that it is so shaky because the camera had been new and they had not really known how to use it at the time. This shakiness and the unfortunate fact that the video was then supposedly mostly taped over at some point makes the Charleville footage somewhat short and lacking in quality, but it is nevertheless one of the more intriguing and talked about pieces of photographic evidence of a surviving thylacine. You can see the video here. What do you think it shows?
There have been other pieces of footage that are even more recent than these and which are every bit is intriguing, if not always totally clear. In 2008, a woman in Western Victoria claimed to have caught footage of an animal which is perhaps a thylacine, and which she claims to have seen on the property at least dozen times over a span of one year before finally capturing one on film. Unfortunately, the video is rather grainy due to a combination of factors, such as the age of the camera, the fact that the creature was at least 200 meters away from the camera, which necessitated maximum zoom, and the video being taken at around dusk. You can see the video and some commentary on it here.
In 2016 there is an even more recent video, this time filmed by a witness in broad daylight in the Adelaide Hills of South Australia. The fleeting footage shows what appears to be a creature reminiscent of a thylacine lope across a backyard to become obscured by some trash cans before disappearing from view behind some trees. The creature in the footage certainly seems to show the distinctive thick-based thylacine tail that tapers off, and it moves in a way not consistent with a dog, but there has been some criticism aimed at the footage.
For one, it was filmed on the mainland, which is not typically considered to be the best place to look for the thylacine, and it was also filmed in a residential district, which seems odd for such an elusive creature. Many have pointed out that the Adelaide Hills has a lot of foxes, and that this is simply one of those. Since foxes roam about at day, are reddish in color as is the animal in the video, and are active at day whereas the thylacine was more active at dusk or night, this seems to make more sense for the subject of the footage than a thylacine. Yet nevertheless, the gait and the tail of the creature seems to point to something other than a fox. You can see the Adelaide Hills footage here.
Also in 2016 we have the footage taken by Greg Booth, his father George ‘Joe’ Booth and Adrian ‘Richo’ Richardson, who together call themselves the Booth Richardson Tiger Team, who have been searching for the elusive creatures for years, and have sighted them and even recorded their vocalizations on several occasions. The team placed 14 cameras around an area which had exhibited purported thylacine activity, on an old forestry track about 50km from Maydena, northeast of Hobart, Tasmania, which filmed constantly for 24 hours a day. On November 4, 2016, they captured two pieces of footage of what they believe to be a thylacine on one of the automatic cameras in the remote area, which you can see here. One shows what is claimed to be the nose of a thylacine sniffing the camera and another purportedly shows the full thylacine itself. Further analysis by biologists has provoked mixed reactions, with many of them saying the creature seen is too small to be a thylacine, and that it is more likely footage of an existent marsupial carnivore which is related to but much smaller than the thylacine, called a quoll, which are also native to Tasmania. One wildlife biologist Nick Mooney has said of the footage:
I am happy to suggest that based on this limited analysis of the film, there is perhaps a one in three chance the image is of a thylacine. It's not the sort of thing you'd bet on, even with someone else's money.
The year 2017 brought us another recent and interesting piece of alleged thylacine footage. The video in question was taken by photographer Paul Day at Moonta, South Australia, on the Yorke Peninsula. Day was filming at sunset when a dog-like creature suddenly made its way across the scene in a seemingly odd, hopping gait. He at first thought that it was merely a dog or a fox at the time, but later analysis of the video convinced him that it was perhaps the almost legendary Tasmanian Tiger. The creature in the video, which can be seen here, seems to have a shape similar to a thylacine and a tail that looks very much like one, as well as even a hint of discoloration on its back that could be indicative of stripes, although it is hard to really say. The strange video created a great amount of excitement within the thylacine hunter and cryptozoology community at the time, but also drew its fair share of skepticism, with thylacine researcher Chris Rehberg saying of the footage:
Without a rigorous analysis, the morphology of the animal appears to match a fox better than a thylacine. The animal's gait, which is notable, is more likely due to illness or injury than to the animal's identity being of marsupial origin.
Others have mentioned the very same thing, with the creature written off as probably merely a crippled or injured dog or fox, but interestingly for others the creature’s gait points more to the real deal, with Neil Waters, the founder of the Thylacine Awareness Group, saying of it:
This animal has a tail with a thick base, just like a thylacine, and there appears to be some discolouration on its back. Then it has this gait that is so peculiar, but it’s just like people have described the thylacine movement.
Do any of these videos show evidence of surviving thylacines? Are these just misidentifications or even hoaxes? There has been much discussion as to whether the thylacine could even possibly still exist, yet sightings, photos, and film clips such as these continue to come in, despite the fact that there has been no conclusive evidence of the creatures surviving past the official extinction date. Is there anything to all of this? Although the thylacine has officially been extinct for nearly a hundred years, it still remains very much mysterious, and entrenched as a cryptid that many are not willing to let go of, and it seems that there will be those willing to look and baffling videos such as these for the foreseeable future.