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Creation  Volume 17Issue 3 Cover

Creation 17(3):20–21
July 1995

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Editor’s note: As Creation magazine has been continuously published since 1978, we are publishing some of the articles from the archives for historical interest, such as this. For teaching and sharing purposes, readers are advised to supplement these historic articles with more up-to-date ones suggested in the Related Articles and Further Reading below.

Tale behind the Tasmanian tiger

Public Domain via Commons 


The Tasmanian tiger is a thylacine and has several unique features including a pouch for its young.

by Robert Doolan

The report was sensational. An Australian National Parks and Wildlife ranger reported on January 25, 1995 that he had seen a live Tasmanian tiger. Many experts believed that Tasmanian tigers (thylacines) had been extinct for 60 years.

Ranger Charlie Beasley was identifying birds in bushland in Tasmania’s north-east when he noticed what he says was unmistakably a Tasmanian tiger across a gully. He watched in amazement through his binoculars for two minutes, and said the black stripes across its back were clear.

“He had the head of a staffordshire [terrier] — a long snout,” Charlie said. Its size — about half that of an adult German shepherd — indicates it may have been a juvenile.

Ranger Beasley’s claim has been given more credence than many of the 400 or so sightings reported since the last captive Tasmanian tiger died in Tasmania’s Hobart Zoo in the 1930s— although tracks of the animal in a rainforest were reported in 1961, and a government biologist is credited with another reliable sighting in 1980.

The exact location of Ranger Beasley’s sighting is officially a secret. Curiously though, as soon as the news got out, ‘tiger hunters’ swarmed into the area around Pyengana, 25 km (15 miles) from Tasmania’s east coast in the north of the State.

In the early 1980s, American TV executive Ted Turner offered $100,000 to anyone who could provide a genuine photograph of a living Tasmanian tiger. The money went unclaimed. Today, magazine and television executives may pay many times that for a photo and the story behind it. That’s why a few adventurers have been willing to spend months or years searching for Tasmanian tigers full-time.

Whether or not a Tasmanian tiger is verified for the world, the animal remains a mystery for evolutionists. Its appearance and way of life are like those of a dog or wolf. In fact, outside Australia it is more often referred to as a Tasmanian wolf. It is called a ‘tiger’ by most Australians only because it has a series of tiger-like black stripes (about 16-18) on its sandy-yellow body.

Dogs, wolves, and other dog-like mammals are supposed to be highly evolved, but the Tasmanian tiger is a marsupial.

Dogs, wolves, and other dog-like mammals are supposed to be highly evolved, but the Tasmanian tiger is a marsupial — a pouched mammal like the koala, kangaroo, and possum — and marsupials are supposed to be more primitive from an evolutionary point of view. The female Tasmanian tiger carries her young in a pouch that points backwards (like a wombat’s and a koala’s, but unlike a kangaroo’s and possum’s), allowing her to run more easily and to let her baby escape if necessary without being trampled.

Though the Tasmanian tiger is similar in many ways to supposedly highly evolved animals like the dog, it also has many similarities to ‘primitive’ marsupials like the possum. Evolutionists claim that similarity (‘homology’) is evidence of a common ancestor. In this case the resemblances conflict with evolutionists’ beliefs about common ancestry, so the similarities to the dog are not attributed to the Tasmanian tiger's common ancestry with dogs.

(Evolutionists have proposed the idea of ‘convergent evolution’ to try to explain similarity not due to common ancestry. Supposedly, organisms with many similarities somehow ‘evolved’ these independently.)

This dilemma is a serious one for evolutionists, who in this case admit they do not know the Tasmanian tiger’s ancestry, and usually classify its single species as a separate biological family.

A more consistent explanation for similarities than evolution's idea of ‘common ancestry’ and ‘convergent evolution’ is that all the animals simply had the same Creator, as the Book of Genesis teaches.

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