As a kid, I was fascinated by the photos of the extinct quagga that were bolted to the sides of the zebra pen at the Topeka Zoo. I knew about extinction, of course. Dinosaurs were extinct. And I knew that buffalo had been shot by the 1000s a long time ago and might have become extinct, if they hadn't been protected.
But I remember the quagga being a little shocking, nonetheless. Here was an animal, that had been alive recently enough to be photographed—not just drawn, like some imaginary beastie—but which no longer existed. Not even one. Not anywhere. It probably didn't hurt that the quagga looked just different enough for little me to feel it as a loss. It wasn't quite a horse. Not quite a zebra. And I would never see one, except as a photo.
It was a weird, existential sort of feeling, which I felt again while watching this video of a thylacine, also called Tasmanian tiger or Tasmanian wolf. This animal is actually a marsupial, not directly related to wolves (or big cats). Any similarity you see is purely convergent evolution at work—different species adapting to similar environmental niches. Not surprisingly, like the wild dogs they resemble, thylacines were hunted with abandon in the 19th and 20th centuries, because of the threat they posed to domesticated herd animals. The last confirmed* wild thylacine was killed in 1930. The last captive one died six years after that. That's him, a male sometimes referred to as "Benjamin" in this video, shot in 1933.
Caltech theoretical physicist Sean Carroll, author of Something Deeply Hidden: Quantum Worlds and the Emergence of Spacetime, explains the concept of a “dimensions” at five different levels of complexity. Dr. Carroll sure has a big brane.
In 1936, the Tasmanian tiger (Thylacinus cynocephalus) was declared to be extinct. Yet in the last three years, there have been eight reported sightings according to Tasmania’s Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment. I hope it’s true. From CNN: While stories abound that some continue to live in the remote wilds of Tasmania, […]
Who doesn’t love a free meal? From Nautilus Live: During the final dive of this year’s Nautilus expedition season, our team discovered a whale fall while exploring Davidson Seamount off central California’s coast with researchers from Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. The skeletal remains of the whale lying on its back are estimated to be […]
People tend to keep luggage around for a long time. And why not? New suitcases are pricey, and no matter how banged up or patched up that old bag gets, it still holds your clothes. Right? Maybe not. Here are 15 travel bags and accessories that make a strong case for upgrading your gear. They’ve […]
Do you own a Mac? Unless you’re using it for a paperweight, you almost can’t afford not to get the Magnificent Mac Bundle. It’s a roundup of some truly essential security and file management apps, bundled up with great photo and video enhancers. The best part is that all nine apps are potentially available for […]
As much as vaping has taken over the market during the last decade, there’s still a lot of questions about the technology, as well as health concerns that we’re just now finding out about. One thing you can say about smoking: You know exactly what you’re getting, especially when it comes to pipes that you […]