September 7, 1936 – For millions of years there was a carnivorous marsupial known as a thylacine running around Australia and Tasmania. It had distinctive stripes down its back and it was one of only two marsupials that had a pouch in both sexes (water opossum is the other one). Today was the day that the last known member of this species died.
It looked like a medium-sized dog, usually somewhere between 2 and 3 feet tall at the shoulders and weighing in at around 50 pounds.
Driven to near extinction by hunters and other predators, the last of the thylacines was captured in 1933 and brought to the Hobart Zoo in Tasmania. Nicknamed “Benjamin,” this poor animal would die of neglect within 3 years. Unfortunately, very little research was performed on the animal before it was too late. There is even some debate as to what sex “Benjamin” was.
Conservationists held out hope that there might be another thylacine somewhere out there in the Tasmanian wilderness, but after 50 years and no confirmed sightings, the species was officially declared extinct in the 1980s.
On the bright side, there have been thousands of unconfirmed sightings over the decades. In 2005 a German tourists snapped some pictures of what might be a thylacine, but the evidence was inconclusive.
The movie clips below were filmed in 1933.