thylacine

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thylacine

(thī`ləsīn') or

Tasmanian wolf,

carnivorous marsupialmarsupial
, member of the order Marsupialia, or pouched mammals. With the exception of the New World opossums and an obscure S American family (Caenolestidae), marsupials are now found only in Australia, Tasmania, New Guinea, and a few adjacent islands.
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, or pouched mammal, of New Guinea, Australia, and Tasmania, presumed extinct since 1936. The thylacine is often cited as an example of convergent evolution: It was superficially quite similar to a wolf or dog, although it had evolved entirely independently of these animals. About the size of a collie, it had a long tail and a wolflike head with short ears; its large jaws were relatively weak. Its coat was brownish with a series of black stripes across the back, and it was also known as the Tasmanian tiger. A nocturnal hunter, the thylacine probably preyed on small animals. The female gave birth to very undeveloped young, which were then carried in a pouch surrounding the teats. By the time of European settlement, thylacines had become extinct or nearly so everywhere except Tasmania, and there they were aggressively hunted because of their reputed attacks on sheep and poultry; its jaws, however, make it unlikely that it could have easily killed sheep. Habitat loss, the introduction of dogs, and other factors also probably contributed to their extinction. The last known thylacine died in captivity in the Hobart Zoo in 1936; reported sightings since then in Australia and Tasmania are unconfirmed. Thylacines are classified in the phylum ChordataChordata
, phylum of animals having a notochord, or dorsal stiffening rod, as the chief internal skeletal support at some stage of their development. Most chordates are vertebrates (animals with backbones), but the phylum also includes some small marine invertebrate animals.
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, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Marsupialia, family Dasyuridae.