The Recently Extinct Plants and Animals Database

Thylacoleo carnifex Owen, 1859

Marsupial lion



Taxonomy & Nomenclature

Synonym/s: Thylacoleo oweni McCoy, 1876:9; Thylacopardus australis Owen, 1888:99; Mylodon australis Krefft, 1870; Thylacoleo robustus Krefft, 1872a

Synonymy follows (Anderson, 1929).


Conservation Status

Last Record: 45.3 ± 0.85 ka Cal BP (Pate et al., 2002)


The marsupial lion was only a distant relative of the thylacine, or Tasmanian tiger (Thylacinus cynocephalus). The most recent dates so far found suggest that it survived up until at least 46,000 BC (Roberts et al. 2001; Pate et al., 2002). Akerman (1998, 2009) and Akerman and Willing (2009) have reported three candidate rock art images which may depict Thylacoleo. However, these claims have been described as "absurd" by (Bednarik, 2013:484) on the basis of the discrepancy between the latest known survival of Thylacoleo and the young age of the art, as well as the lack of fossils of Thylacoleo from the regions of the Kimberley and Arnhem Land.









WAM 02.7.1
QMF44642 ("I1")
F51287 (Dawson, 1985:66)
F4664 (Dawson, 1985:66)
F18666 (Dawson, 1985:66)





Excavations from Thylacoleo Caves:



From roughly 6:00




Original scientific description:

Owen, R. (1858). Odontology, pp. 407-484. In: The Encyclopaedia Britannica, or dictionary of arts, sciences, and general literature. 8th ed. Vol. 16. Edinburgh, Adam and Charles Black.


Other references:

Akerman, Kim. (1998). A Rock Painting, Possibly of the Now Extinct Marsupial Thylacoleo (Marsupial Lion), from the North Kimberley, Western Australia. Beagle: The Records of the Museums and Art Galleries of the Northern Territory 14: 117-121.

Akerman, Kim. (2009). Interaction between humans and megafauna depicted in Australian rock art? Antiquity 83(322).

Akerman, Kim and Willing, Tim. (2009). An ancient rock painting of a marsupial lion, Thylacoleo carnifex, from the Kimberly, Western Australia. Antiquity 83(319).

Albert, Victor A. (1987). A Bungle in the Jungle, or, Why Specialization Is Important in Cryptozoology. Cryptozoology 6: 119-120.

Anderson, C. (1929). Palaeontological notes no. 1. Macropus titan Owen and Thylacoleo carnifex Owen. Records of the Australian Museum 17(1): 35-49, plates xvii–xviii.

Anonymous. (1887). The Australian Lion. Colonist (NZ), 22 January, 30(4721).

Anonymous. (1887). [Untitled]. Poverty Bay Herald (NZ), 28 January, 14(4775).

Anonymous. (1887). [Untitled]. Patea Mail (NZ), 28 January, 12(118).

Anonymous. (1887). An Australian Lion. Evening Post (NZ), 29 January, 33(24).

Anonymous. (1910a). Fossils at Abercrombie Caves. Evening News (Sydney, NSW: 1869-1931), Wednesday 20 April 1910, pp. 5.

Anonymous. (1910b). Australian Pouched Tigers. Northern Star (Lismore, NSW : 1876-1954), Friday 22 April 1910, pp. 3.

Anonymous. (1910c). Untitled. The Mercury (Hobart, Tas.: 1860-1954), Monday 25 April 1910, pp. 6. ["Another collection of highly interesting fossil remains..."]

Anonymous. (1910d). Untitled. Supplement to "The Border Watch" (Mount Gambier, SA: 1861-1954), Wednesday 27 April 1910, pp. 1. ["An interesting collection of fossil remains..."]

Anonymous. (1923). Marsupial Tiger. The Mail (Adelaide), Saturday, 31 March, p. 1.

Anonymous. (1923). Zoology: Marsupial Tiger. The Queenslander, Saturday, 7 April, p. 32.

Anonymous. (1923). Marsupial Tiger. Morning Bulletin (Queensland), Saturday, 7 April, p. 8.

Anonymous. (1923). The Marsupial Tiger Hunter. Cairns Post, Wednesday, 18 April, p. 9.

Anonymous. (1932). Unoccupied Wastes. New Zealand Herald, 2 April, LXIX(21147).

Anonymous. (1936). "Only Hearsay Evidence": Marsupial Tiger. The Courier-Mail, Friday, 20 November, p. 12.

Anonymous. (1936). On Mt. Bellenden-Ker. The Richmond River Herald and Northern Districts Advertiser, Tuesday, 24 November, p. 4.

Anonymous. (1977).Thylacoleo. 6: p. 254. In: The Australian Encyclopaedia. Vol. 4. Grolier Society of Australia: Sydney 3rd edition.

Archer, Michael. (1982). A lion in possum's clothing. Aust. Nat. Hist. 20: 373-379. [relevant citation?]

Archer, Michael and Dawson, I. (1982). Revision of marsupial lions of the genus Thylacoleo Gervais (Thylacoleonidae, Marsupialia) and thylacoleonid evolution in the late Cainozoic, pp. 477-494. In: Archer, Michael (ed.). Carnivorous Marsupials, Vol. 1. Sydney, N. S. W.: Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales.

Arman, Samuel D. and Prideaux, Gavin J. (2016). Behaviour of the Pleistocene marsupial lion deduced from claw marks in a southwestern Australian cave. Scientific Reports 6: 21372.

Author?. (1871). On the Fossil Mammals of Australia. Part IV. Dentition and Mandible of Thylacoleo carnifex, with Remarks on the Arguments for Its Herbivority. Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society of London 161: 213-266.

Ayliffe, L. K., G. J. Prideaux, M. I. Bird, R. Grün, R. G. Roberts, G. A. Gully, R. Jones, L. K. Fifield, and R. G. Cresswell. 2008. Age constraints on Pleistocene megafauna at Tight Entrance Cave in southwestern Australia. Quaternary Science Reviews 27: 1784-1788.

Bednarik, Robert G. (2010). Australian rock art of the Pleistocene. Rock Art Research 27(1): 95-120.

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Bednarik, R. G. (2013b). Megafauna depictions in Australian rock art. Rock Art Research 30(2): 197-215.

Brinsley G. Sheridan, "Notice of the

Existence in Queensland of an Undescribed Species of Mammal," Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London, 1871, pp. 629-630

Brisbane Courier, 1870's

Broom, P. (1898). On the affinities and habits of Thylacoleo. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 23: 57-74.

Burton, Maurice. (1952). The Supposed ‘Tiger-Cat’ of Queensland. Oryx 1: 321-326.

Camens, Aaron Bruce and Carey, Stephen Paul. (2013). Contemporaneous Trace and Body Fossils from a Late Pleistocene Lakebed in Victoria, Australia, Allow Assessment of Bias in the Fossil Record. PLoS ONE 8(1): e52957.

Carey, Stephen P. et al. (2011). A diverse Pleistocene marsupial trackway assemblage from the Victorian Volcanic Plains, Australia. Quaternary Science Reviews 30(5): 591-610. [Abstract]

Case, Judd A. (1985). Differences in prey utilisation by Pleistocene marsupial carnivores, Thylacoleo carnifex (Thylacoleonidae) and Thylacinus cynocephalus (Thylacinidae). Australian Journal of Mammalogy 8(1): 45-52.

Coleman, Loren and Clark, Jerome (1999). Cryptozoology A To Z: The Encyclopedia of Loch Monsters, Sasquatch, Chupacabras, and Other Authentic Mysteries of Nature. Touchstone (original edition), Simon & Schuster. [pp. 206-207]

Cope, E. D. (1882). The ancestry and habits of [i]Thylacoleo[/i]. American Naturalist 16: 520-522.

Cosgrove, Richard, Field, Judith, Garvey, Jillian, Brenner-Coltrain, Joan, Goede, Albert, Charles, Bethan, Wroe, Steve, Pike-Tay, Anne, Grün, Rainer, Aubert, Maxime, Lees, Wendy and O'Connell, James. (2010). Overdone overkill – the archaeological perspective on Tasmanian megafaunal extinctions. Journal of Archaeological Science 37: 2486-2503.

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Curry, Michael, Reed, Liz and Bourne, Steve. (2014). Catching the marsupial 'lion' by the tail: [i]Thylacoleo carnifex[/i] and the Naracoorte caves. ACKMA Journal 97: 6-16.

Daily, B. (1960). Thylacoleo, the extinct marsupial lion. Australian Museum Magazine 13: 163-166.

Dash, Mike. (1992). The Lost Australians: Back from Extinction. Fortean Times 62: 54-56.

Dawson, Lyndall. (1985). Marsupial fossils from Wellington Caves, New South Wales; the historic and scientific significance of the collections in the Australia Museum, Sydney. Records of the Australian Museum 37(2): 55-69.

Dawson, L. and Augee, M. L. (1997). The late Quaternary sediments and fossil cave vertebrate fauna from Cathedral Cave, Wellington Caves, New South Wales. Proc. Linn. Soc. N.S.W. 117: 51-78.

De Vis, Charles W. (1883). On the tooth-marked bones of extinct marsupials. Proc. Linn. Soc., N.S.W. 8: 187-190.

De Vis, Charles W. (1887). On a femur probably of Thylacoleo. Proc. R. S. Qld. 3: 122-128.

De Vis, Charles W. (1900). Bones and diet of Thylacoleo. Annals of the Queensland Museum 5: 7-11.

Errey, K. and Flannery, T. F. (1978). The neglected megafaunal sites of the Colongulac region, western Victoria. The Artefact 3: 101-106.

Etheridge, R. jnr. (1918). The ungual phalanges termed Mylodon australis by Krefft, spelæan animal vel Thylacoleo by Owen, and Thylacoleo by Lydekker. Annals And Magazine of Natural History, ser. 9. 2: 307-318.

Figueirido, B., Martín-Serra, A. and Janis, C. M. (2016). Ecomorphological determinations in the absence of living analogues: the predatory behavior of the marsupial lion ([i]Thylacoleo carnifex[/i]) as revealed by elbow joint morphology. Paleobiology 42(3): 508-531.

Finch, Eileen. (1971). Thylacoleo, marsupial lion or marsupial sloth? Aust. Nat. Hist. 17(1): 7-11.

Finch, Eileen. (1983a). Marsupial lion. Australian Natural History 21(2): 67.

Finch, Eileen. (1983b). The marsupial lion [i]Thylacoleo carnifex[/i], pp. 52–53 in Quirk, S. and Archer, M. (eds) Prehistoric Animals of Australia. Australian Museum : Sydney.

Finch, M. E. (1982). The discovery and interpretation of [i]Thylacoleo carnifex[/i] (Thylacoleonidae, Marsupialia), 537-551. In: Archer, M. (ed.). Carnivorous marsupials. Sydney, Australia: Surrey Beatty & Sons Pty Ltd. and the Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales.

Finch, M. E. and Freedman, L. (1982). An odontometric study of the species of Thylacoleo (Thylacoleonidae, Marsupialia). Pp. 553–61 in Archer, M. (ed.) Carnivorous marsupials. 2 Vols. Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales : Sydney.

Finch, M.E. and Freedman, L. (1986). Functional morphology of the vertebral column of Thylacoleo carnifex Owen (Thylacoleonidae: Marsupialia). Australian Journal of Zoology 34: 1–16.

Finch, M. E. and Freedman, L. (1988). Functional morphology of the limbs of Thylacoleo carnifex Owen (Thylacoleonidae: Marsupialia). Australian Journal of Zoology 36(3): 251-272. [Abstract]

Flannery, Timothy F. and Gott, B. (1984). The Spring Creek locality, southwestern Victoria, a late surviving megafaunal assemblage. Australian Zoologist 21(4): 385-422.

Flower, William Henry. (1868). On the affinities and probable habits of the extinct Australian marsupial, [i]Thylacoleo carnifex[/i], Owen. Quarterly Journal of The Geological Society 24(1-2): 307-319. [Abstract]

Flower, William Henry. (1884). Catalogue of the specimens illustrating the osteology and dentition of vertebrated animals, recent and extinct, contained in the Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons of England. Part 2. Class Mammalia, other than man. London, Royal College of Surgeons of England, xliii, 779 pp.

Gervais, P. (1848-52). Zoologie et paleontologie francaises (animaux vertebres) ou nouvelles recherches sur les animaux vivantes et fossiles de la France. Arthus Bertrand: Paris. Tome 1, 271 pp. Tome II, 146 pp.

Gill, Edmund D. (1954). Ecology and distribution of the extinct giant marsupial ‘‘Thylacoleo’’. Vic. Naturalist 71: 18-36.

Gill, Edmund D. (1963). The Australian Aborigines and the Giant Extinct Marsupials. Australian Natural History 14(8): 263-266.

Gill, Edmund D. (1967). Melbourne Before History Began. Australian Broadcasting Commission, Sydney.

Gill, Edmund D. (1973). Antipodal Distribution of the Holotype Bones of Thylacoleo carnifex Owen (Marsupialia). Sci. Rep. Tohoku Univ., 2nd series (Geol.), Special Volume, no. 6 (Hatai Memorial Volume), pp. 497-499.

Gill, Edmund D. and Banks, M. R. (1956). Cainozoic history of Mowbray Swamp and other areas of northwestern Tasmania. Ibid. 6: 1-42.

Gillespie, R. Horton, D. R., Ladd, P. R., Macumber, P. G., Rich, T. H., Thorne, R. and Wright, R. V. S. (1978). Lancefield Swamp and the extinction of the Australian megafauna. Science 200: 1044-1048.

Gilroy, Rex. (1976). Australian monsters. Psychic Australian [1976]: pagination?.

Glauert, Ludwig. (1912). Fossil marsupial remains from Balladonia in the Eucla Division. The Balladonia "Soak". Records of the Western Australian Museum 1(2): 47-65.

Glen, A. S. and Dickman, C. R. (eds.). (2014). Carnivores of Australia: Past, Present and Future. Collingwood, Victoria: CSIRO Publishing.

Goede, A. and Bada, J. L. (1985). Electron spin resonance dating of Quaternary bone material from Tasmanian caves – a comparison with ages determined by aspartic acid recemization and C14. Australian Journal of Earth Sciences 32: 155-162.

Goss, Michael. (1987). The Queensland Tiger. Fate 1987(March): 38-47.

Gould, Charles, 1870's?, The Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London.

Healy, Tony and Cropper, Paul. (1994). Out of the Shadows: Mystery Animals of Australia. Chippendale, N.S.W., Australia: Ironbark. [pp. 101-110]

Grün, R. et al. (2010). ESR and U-series analyses of faunal material from Cuddie Springs, NSW, Australia: implications for the timing of the extinction of the Australian megafauna. Quaternary Science Reviews 29: 596-610.

Heuvelmans, Bernard. (1958). On the Track of Unknown Animals. New York: Hill and Wang. [ch. 8, 'The Queensland Marsupial Tiger', pp. 210-220]

Heuvelmans, Bernard. (1972). On the Track of Unknown Animals. Granada Publishing Ltd. [chapter 8?]

Horton, D. R., Wells, R. T. and Wright, R. V. S. (1979). Thylacoleo, marsupial carnivore. Abst. Aus. Mam. Soc. Bull. 6(1): 25.

Horton, D. R. and Wright, R.V.S. (1981). Cuts on Lancefield bones: carnivorous Thylacoleo, not humans the cause. Archaeology and Physical Anthropology in Oceania 16: 73-80.

Jankowski, N. R., Gully, G. A., Jacobs, Z., Roberts, R. G. and Prideaux, G. J. (2016). A late Quaternary vertebrate deposit in Kudjal Yolgah Cave, south‐western Australia: refining regional late Pleistocene extinctions. Journal of Quaternary Science 31(5): 538-550.

Johnstone, Robert Arthur. (1984). Spinifex and Wattle: Reminiscences of Pioneering in North Queensland. East Melbourne, Australia: J. W. Johnstone-Need. [possible encounter with the Queensland tiger]

Jones, Neil. (2003). The Kenilworth dasyuroid: the Tasmanian Tiger has relatives spotted in Queensland. Kenilworth, Queensland: Self published. 16 pp.

Krefft, Gerard. (1866). On the dentition of Thylacoleo carnifex (Ow.). Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist., series 3 18: 148-149.

Krefft, Gerard. (1866). The Marsupial Lion of Australia—(Thylacoleo carnifex.). The Australasian, Saturday, 12 March, p. 165.

Krefft, Gerard. (1867). Fossil Remains Found In the Caves of Wellington Valley. The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 - 1954), Thursday 3 January 1867, pp. 3.

Krefft, G. (1870). In New South Wales Parliamentary Paper] Wellington Caves. (Correspondence relative to exploration of), pp. 1-12.

Krefft, Gerard. (1872a). Natural History: A cuvierian principle in palaeontology, tested by evidences of an extinct leonine marsupial (Thylaeoleo carnifex). By Prof. Owen. Reviewed by Gerard Krefft. The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser 620(13) May 18 1872: 626, cols. 1-4; 627, col. 1.

Krefft, Gerard. (1872b). Natural history. The phalanger tribe (continued). The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser 621(13), 25 May, 1872. [extract republished in (Mahoney & Ride, 1975)]

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Macken, A. C. et al. (2012). Variation and pattern in the responses of mammal faunas to Late Pleistocene climatic change in southeastern South Australia. Journal of Quaternary Science 27: 415-424.

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Marshall, Larry G. (1974). Late Pleistocene mammals from the "Keilor Cranium Site", southern Victoria, Australia. Memoirs of the National Museum of Victoria 35: 63-86.

Mattingley, E. H. (1946). Thylacine and Thylacoleo. Vict. Nat. 63: 143.

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Minard, Pete. (Accepted, 2018). Making the ‘Marsupial Lion’: Bunyips, networked colonial knowledge production between 1830-1859 and the description of Thylacoleo carnifex. Historical Records of Australian Science. [Abstract]

Molnar, R. E. and Kurz, C. (1997). The distribution of Pleistocene vertebrates on the eastern Darling Downs, based on the Queensland Museum collections. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 117: 107-133.

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Owen, Richard. (1866). On the fossil mammals of Australia. Part II. Description of an almost entire skull of the Thylacoleo carnifex, Owen, from a freshwater deposit, Darling Downs Queensland. Phil. Trans. Roy. Soc. 156: 73-82.

Owen, Richard. (1871). On the fossil mammals of Australia. Part IV. Dentition and mandible of Thylacoleo carnifex with remarks on the arguments for its herbivority. Phil. Trans. Roy. Soc. London 161: 213-266.

Owen, Richard. (1877). Reaserches on the fossil remains of the extinct mammals of Australia; with a notice of the extinct marsupials of England. Vol. 1: text. Vol 2: plates. London: J. Erxleben.

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Pate, F. Donald, McDowell, Matthew C., Wells, Rod T. and Smith, Andrew M. (2002). Last recorded evidence for megafauna at Wet Cave, Naracoorte, South Australia 45,000 years ago. Australian Archaeology 54: 53-55.

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Price, Gilbert J. and Sobbe, I. H. (2005). Pleistocene palaeoecology and environmental change on the Darling Downs, southeastern Queensland, Australia. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 51(1): 171-201. [subfossil remains from Darling Downs, Queensland]

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Prideaux, G.J., J. A. Long, L. K. Ayliffe, J. C. Hellstrom, B. Pillans, W. E. Boles, M. N. Hutchinson, R. G. Roberts, M. L. Cupper, L. J. Arnold, P. D. Devine, and N. M. Warburton. (2007b). An arid-adapted middle Pleistocene vertebrate fauna from south-central Australia, Nature 445: 422-425.

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Sheridan, Brinsley G. (1871). Notice of the Existence in Queensland of an Undescribed Species of Mammal. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 1871: 629-630.

Shuker, Karl. (1989). Mystery Cats of the World. London: Robert Hale. [pp. 209-222]

Smith F.A., Lyons S.K., Ernest S.K.M., Jones K.E., Kaufman D.M., Dayan T., Marquet P.A., Brown J.H., Haskell J.P. 2003 Body mass of late Quaternary mammals. Ecology 84(12), 3403-3403.

Smith, Malcolm. (1996). Bunyips and Bigfoots: In Search of Australia’s Mystery Animals. Alexandria, N.S.W., Australia: Millennium. [pp. 69-93]

Smith, Malcolm. (2012). The Queensland Tiger: Further Evidence on the 1871 Footprint. Journal of Cryptozoology 1: 19-24.

Spencer, B. and Walcott, R. H. (1912). The origin of cuts on bones of Australian extinct marsupials. Proc. Roy. Soc. Vict. 24: 93-133.

Stefen, Clara. (1999). Tooth enamel structure of some Australian carnivorous marsupials. Alcheringa 23(2): 111-132. [Abstract]

Taçon, Paul S. C. and Webb, Steve. (2017). Art and megafauna in the Top End of the Northern Territory, Australia: Illusion or reality?, pp. 145-161. In: David, Bruno et al. (eds.). Terra Australis 47. Acton, A.C.T.: ANU Press. xxvi + 499 pp.

Tate, G. H. H. (1925). Mammals of Cape York Peninsula, with Notes on the Occurrence of Rain Forest in Queensland. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 98: 563-616. [relevant citation?]

Tedford, R. H., and R. T. Wells. 1990. Pleistocene deposits and fossil vertebrates from the Dead Heart of Australia. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 28: 263-284.

Troughton, Ellis Le Geyt. (1946). Furred Animals of Australia. Sydney: Angus and Robertson. 376 pp.

Troughton, Ellis Le Geyt. (1947). Furred Animals of Australia. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1947. [pp. 48-50]

Turney, Chris S. M., Flannery, Timothy F., Roberts, Richard G., Reid, Craig, Fifield, L. Keith, Higham, Tom F. G., Jacobs, Zenobia, Kemp, Noel, Colhoun, Eric A., Kalin, Robert M. and Ogle, Neil. (2008). Late-surviving megafauna in Tasmania, Australia, implicate human involvement in their extinction. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science 105(34): 12150-12153.

Van Huet, Sanja. (1999). The taphonomy of the Lancefield swamp megafaunal accumulation, Lancefield, Victoria. In: Baynes, Alexander and Long, John A. (eds.). Papers in vertebrate palaeontology. Records of the Western Australian Museum Supplement 57: 331-340.

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Wells, Rod T. (1975). Reconstructing the Past: Excavations in Fossil Caves. Australian Natural History 18(6): 208-211.

Wells, R. T. (1985). Thylacoleo carnifex: a marsupial lion. In Rich, P. V., van Tets, G. F. & Knight, F. (eds.): Kadimakara: Extinct Vertebrates of Australia, 225–229. Pioneer Design Studio, Canberra.

Wells, Rod T. and Camens, A. B. (2018). New skeletal material sheds light on the palaeobiology of the Pleistocene marsupial carnivore, Thylacoleo carnifex. PLoS ONE 13(12): e0208020.

Wells, R. T., Horton, D. R. and Rogers, P. (1982). Thylacoleo carnifex Owen (Thylacoleonidae, Marsupialia): marsupial carnivore?, pp. 573-585. In: Archer, M. (ed.). Carnivorous marsupials. Sydney, Australia: Surrey Beatty & Sons Pty Ltd. and the Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales.

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Wells, R. T., R. Grün, J. Sullivan, M. S. Forbes, S. N. Dalgairns, E. A. Bestland, E. J. Rhodes, K. E.Walshe, N. A. Spooner, and S. Eggins. (2006). Late Pleistocene megafauna site at Black Creek Swamp, Flinders Chase National Park, Kangaroo Island, South Australia. Alcheringa Special Issue 1: 367-387.

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Wroe, Stephen. (year?). Move Over Sabre-Tooth Tiger. Nature Australia 26(10): 44-51.

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Wroe, Stephen and Milne, Nicholas. (2007). Convergence and remarkably consistent constraint in the evolution of carnivore skull shape. Evolution 61(5): 1251-1260.

Wroe, Stephen and Musser, A. (2001). The skull of Nimbacinus dicksoni (Thylacinidae: Marsupialia). Australian Journal of Zoology 49: 487-514.

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Wroe, S., Myers, T., Seebacher, F., Kear, B., Gillespie, A., Crowther, M., and Salisbury, S. (2003). An alternative method for predicting body-mass: The case of the marsupial lion. Paleobiology 29(3): 403-411.

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Psychic Australian November 1976 [author? volume? pagination?]


{tab Agnozoology}

This is the first in a series of terminal tabs that deal with what has traditionally been considered cryptozoology. Since that term and its contents should be rejected (viz. polyphyly), we need a suitable nominal replacement. I suggest agnozoology, which is etymologically the study of unidentified creatures: agnostos (unidentified) + zoo (creature) + logia (study). This renders the field as strictly concerned with taxonomic diagnosis and assignation, and not with unrelated issues such as "out of place" animals. The latter is the subject of conservation biology, since it concerns the global population size of animals. Even if there are multiple candidates1.

This does not have to rob one of the beloved notion of a 'cryptid', as something like 'agnostid' is neither likely to catch on nor demanded by the etymological replacement. It does however mean that 'cryptid' is not fully subsumed under agnozoology. The term 'cryptid' is semantically broader, and hence there are cryptids outside of agnozoology. For example, out of place animals.

1 An important clarification needs to be made here. It is perfectly possible that each of these candidates has not been formally described in the scientific literature. This is because taxonomic diagnosis is primitive, and formal description is not. Most obviously, formal description does not entail taxonomic validity. But more importantly, the diagnosis of a new species is not contingent upon publication. Otherwise we would have an impossible situation. No diagnosis until publication, but then no diagnosis to publish in the first place.


Striped, stocky and still surviving?

There are several cryptids which possibly find their true idenitites in Thylacoleo, or at least the thylacoleonid family in general (Wakaleo, etc.). These include the Queensland tiger, the striped marsupial cat and the aboriginal yarri. Descriptions vary, with some being general enough to be interpreted as being consistent with that of the thylacine (Thylacinus cynocephalus) (e.g. Naish, 2002). However, other descriptions are seemingly non-thylacine like, such as those of the animal being essentially a 'quoll on steroids'.

Healy & Cropper (1994:102) mention that the earliest possible European report ('tiger') is from Cardwell, Queensland in 1864, however the reportee was a particularly disreputable bullock driver in the employ of W. T. Scott. Either because of the reluctance to accept his report, or because they are simply unaware of it, most authors cite the first European encounter (1871?) as being that of the 13 year old son of police magistrate Brinsley G. Sheridan:

"In a letter addressed to Mr. Sclater [published 1871 in the Proceedings of the zoological Society of London], Mr. B. G. Sheridan, of Cardwell (Queensland), states, in fact, that his son, a boy of 13, who was accustomed to run the woods like an old hunter, was out one day accompanied by a small terrier, when he saw the latter obtain a scent and follow it up with eagerness. Curious to know what game he had to do with, the boy ran after his dog, and found himself face to face with an animal of the size of a dingo dog, with a round head like that of a cat, with a long tail, and with a body striped with yellow and black, and which was crouching in the high grass at about a mile from the coast. The dog and the savage beast soon grappled, and the boy, in order to aid his companion, tried to kill the enemy with a pistol shot, but having merely succeeded in wounding and rendering it more furious, he judged it prudent to beat a retreat." (Anonymous, 1890)

While this remains the earliest known European report that isn't dismissed on the basis of the reputation of the alleged witness, I have discovered on Trove (26 April 2019) an extremely tantalising description that could significantly extend the reports both geographically and temporally:

"We are informed that the tiger cat of the stations in the interior is twice the size of the specimen in question [i.e. 18-inch tail], and striped like the largest variety of the feline race. The striped tiger cat is said to be a formidable enemy to sheep." (Anonymous, 1868)



Anoynmous. (1868). ['A fine specimen of the native tiger cat...']. The Herald (Melbourne), Tuesday, 16 June, p. 2. [bottom of second-last column]

Anonymous. (1890). The dog-headed opossum. Leader (Melbourne), Saturday, 26 April, p. 8.

Author?. (2003). Qld: mysterious creature roams Cape York". Australian Associated Press General News, 2 July.

Chapple, P. 2000. Mystery animals of Australia: a brief overview. Unpublished report of Rare Fauna Research Association (Monbulk, Victoria).

Healy, T. & Cropper, P. 1994. Out of the Shadows: Mystery Animals of Australia. Ironbark (Chippendale, Australia).

Heuvelmans, Bernard (1995) [1958]. On the Track of Unknown Animals. (translated from the French by Richard Garnett, drawings by Alika Lindbergh, introduction by Gerald Durrell). London & New York : Kegan Paul International.

"Highlands.". (1937). Queensland's Marsupial Tiger. In: "Wolves, Tigers and Devils": Australia's Flesh-Eating Marsupials. Sydney Mail, Wednesday, 23 June, p. 44.

Le Souef, A. S. and Burrell, Harry. (1926). The Wild Animals of Australasia: Embracing the Mammals of New Guinea and the Nearer Pacific Islands: With a Chapter on the Bats of Australia and New Guinea by Ellis Le G. Troughton (Zoologist Australian Museum Sydney). Sydney: G.G. Harrap. 388 pp. [pp. 329-332]

Macdonald, Donald. (1929). Bush Notes. The Australasian, Saturday, 8 June, p. 50. ["As for reports which occasionally drift in"]

Naish, Darren. (2002). Downfall of the Yarri, or Will the real Thylacoleo please stand up? Fortean Times, available at: [accessed 27 April 2019]

Naish, Darren. (2010). Rilla Martin's 1964 photo of the 'Ozenkadnook tiger'. Blog post at Tetrapod Zoology (2nd version), 18 August, available at:

Naish, Darren. (2017). The Ozenkadnook Tiger Photo Revealed as a Hoax. Blog Post at Tetrapod Zoology (3rd edition), 29 March, available at:

Troughton, Ellis Le Geyt. (1965). Furred Animals of Australia, 8th edition. Sydney: Angus & Robertson. 376 pp.

Williams, M. & Lang, R. 2010. Australian Big Cats: An Unnatural History of Panthers. Strange Nation (Hazelbrook, Australia).


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