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Ground floor, Room 10 (inv. no. MSNG 743)
Australia, Tasmania, 19th century
The Mammals exhibition concludes with a large selection of marsupials. The thylacine (Thylacinus cynocephalus), also known as the Tasmanian wolf, is the largest carnivorous marsupial of modern times, whose original distribution area included Australia, New Guinea and Tasmania. The probable cause of its disappearance in Australia and New Guinea was competition with domestic dogs that became wild after being introduced by aborigines thousands of years ago. Tasmanian farmers believed the thylacine was one of the main predators of sheep and so it was subjected to intense hunting, although this was – and remains – very controversial. By 1963, the thylacine was already confined to the most inaccessible part of the south of the island. The reasons for its disappearance were, in addition to hunting, the introduction of diseases, the modification of its habitat and competition with the domestic dogs of the settlers.
The last confirmed capture of a wild specimen took place in 1933, while the species became extinct in captivity on 7 September 1936 in the Hobart Zoo. In 1986, the thylacine was declared to be officially extinct.
The specimen on display was donated to the museum in 1883 and is one of the only three specimens in Italy. There are only 80 specimens prepared in a lifelike manner in the world.