The thylacine, more popularly known as the Tasmanian tiger, was an apex predator in Australia and Tasmania before its extinction in the early 20th century.
Despite its superficial resemblance to a large dog, the thylacine was actually a marsupial, with no relation to canines — its doglike features emerged as it evolved to fill an ecological niche similar to wolves.
Instantly recognizable by its distinctive striped back, the thylacine also featured an abdominal pouch similar to a kangaroo’s.
Though the thylacine had vanished from the Australian mainland by the time of British colonization, small populations of the animal survived on the island of Tasmania.
Thylacines were rarely seen by Tasmanian settlers but were increasingly blamed for the deaths of livestock, leading the government to establish bounties for their killing.
Their already meager numbers dwindled, and efforts to conserve the species were too little, too late. The last thylacine to be killed in the wild was shot by a hunter in 1930, and the last captive thylacine died at the Hobart Zoo in 1936.
After 50 years without a confirmed sighting, the thylacine was declared extinct in 1986 — but unconfirmed sightings of the mysterious Tasmanian tiger are still reported occasionally to this day, and efforts are even underway to clone one from preserved DNA.