Tuesday, 26 July 2016

'Hypercarnivore' relative of Tasmanian devil found in remote Queensland fossil field

PHOTO: Whollydooleya's tooth was discovered in 2013, but only recently formally identified. (Supplied: UNSW)

The fossilised tooth of a previously unknown 'hypercarnivore' marsupial has been uncovered in remote Queensland after scientists used satellite data to locate a new hotbed of archaeological records.
The discovery was made possible after a satellite discovery of a an archaeologically rich area of late Miocene rock about four hours' drive north of Mt Isa in outback Queensland.
The area was active from around 12 to 5 million years ago.
Named Whollydooleya tomnpatrichorum — or Whollydooleya for short — the animal was a much larger, distant cousin of the Tasmanian devil.
"This was an animal which was very considerably bigger than the largest [hypercarnivore] we've got today, the Tasmanian devil, probably two to three times," UNSW's Professor Mike Archer told the ABC.
Professor Archer said the animal — discovered with the fossils of several other small to medium animals new to science — was in the size range of thylacines but much more "massive".

While the tooth was first discovered in 2013, the animal is the first of those discovered to be formally identified.
Whollydooleya — and the place it was discovered, Wholly Dooleya Hill — is named after Riversleigh volunteer Genevieve Dooley, the partner of team member Phil Creaser, who named the fossil-rich hill for the team before various types of fossil came their way.
"There's also a new kind of kangaroo that turned up, a distant cousin of the musky rat kangaroo that lives on the Atherton Tableland," Professor Archer said.
Medium to large-sized Australian Late Miocene animals have previously been recorded at Northern Territory sites, but little is known about smaller animals from the period.

"The small to medium-sized mammals from the New Riversleigh deposits will reveal a great deal about how Australia's inland environments and animals changed between 12 and 5 million years ago," team member Dr Karen Black said.Satellites help uncover fossil field

The story behind the discovery of the new fossil field is almost as remarkable as the animals themselves.
 Scientists from UNSW used satellite data to locate the 'New Riversleigh' fossil field before visiting it via helicopter. (Supplied: UNSW)
A PhD student at the university, Ned Stephens, developed a way to use satellite data to find fossil fields by studying the frequencies being returned from known sites at the well-known Riversleigh World Heritage Area.
In 2012, Mr Stephens found a specific set of frequencies coming back up to the satellite but found it was being returned well outside the bounds of the known fossil fields.
"It turns out this area which we're calling New Riversleigh is bigger than the world heritage area, and yet it's not within the world heritage area," Professor Archer said.
"We're just beginning to understand there's a massive deposit of fossils out there which we had no idea about."

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Latest FB "thylacine" Prank Photo

Tis the season for Facebook pranks.
Make sure you pretend you just stumbled  on to the animal.Tick
Make sure the animal doesnt react like a normal animal.Tick
Pretend you do not  know what the animal is..your just "putting it out there" .Tick
Pretend you dont have any idea what the true value of the photos would be, if they were real..just give them away on facebook.Tick

 And Geoff Treloar, ergo..The Prankster has pulled the post.

Sunday, 19 June 2016

OOPA: Golden Possum turns up in Brisbane

We love it when unusual wildlife turn up where they're not supposed to - in this case the rather splendid-looking Golden Possum, a rare colour phase previously only known to turn up in small pockets of Tasmania (and every once in a Blue Moon, on the outskirts of somewhere like Sydney).

These beauties have a hard time in the wild - it's tricky staying out of sight from large predators like Powerful Owls when your fur is as blingy as this bloke's!

So our thanks to Queensland-based CFZ Australia reader Dylan Smerdon for sharing his friend Auresh Yousefpour's pictures of this rare beauty, which appeared in a suburban backyard in Highgate Hill, Brisbane recently. We've never heard of a Golden Possum so far north.

Have you seen an Out of Place Animal (OOPA) in Australia? Send in your pics, we'd love to see and share them on the blog.

Book Review: Lure Of The Thylacine by Col Bailey

By Mike Williams

Easily Col Bailey's best book so far, Lure Of the Thylacine is now out, the second of three planned books dedicated to the Thylacine. Get your copy HERE.

The passion and dedication that Col has put into this subject astounds me.

As engrossing as the stories are, what is perhaps the saddest thing is that they show you how ignorant people were, sometimes, in those days when they encountered these poor animals.

There are 64 punchy short chapters on Tiger encounters and stories, some that do end happily, at least for the tiger!

Professor Mike Archer has been so impressed with Col's work that he happily accepted the request to write a really thoughtful introduction.

Col's first book started when Col interviewed Reg Trigg back in 1980.

The tiger is still out there and the Lure Of The Thylacine will never go away.

Monday, 13 June 2016

Victorian Big Cat Hoax on Facebook

Okay, some Facebook funster has tried a quick hoax, which failed miserably, claiming that he had photographed a large black panther crossing a dirt road in central Victoria.

Click the image to enlarge it.

The image was taken down but that didn't stop the power of social media from sending it viral within minutes, with multiple people claiming either they, their friend or close relative had taken the photo.

You have to admire their pluck!

Our thanks to Tania P. Woodliffe, who appears to have solved the mystery by pointing us to this local news article featuring a fearsome-looking model. Source

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Exhaust Notes talks to us about tracking Tigers with Toyota

The team over at Exhaust Notes caught up with some CFZers recently to talk about the recent Tasmanian expedition sponsored by Toyota Australia.

Here's a snippet:

Why did Toyota Australia sponsor your trips?

Toyota Australia agreed to sponsor our trips after we approached them with our idea. They thought the premise was exciting and a good fit for their 4WD vehicles; popular in regional and rural Australia. We were attracted to Toyota because of its solid reputation as a manufacturer of high performance off-road vehicles, and their popularity in the bush. It was a perfect match for us really, and meant we were able to do so much more than we had originally planned.

Get the full story over at Exhaust Notes.

On the trail of the Tiger

NSW man Michael Williams is on his eighth Toyota-sponsored trip in 10 years to the State searching for evidence the Tasmanian tiger walks the Apple Isle - 29 years after it was officially declared dead and gone.

The last known thylacine died in captivity on November 7, 1936.

"Initially I wasn't that much interested in the tiger and we did a book called Australian Big Cats: An Unnatural History of Panthers, which is folklore on the big cat mythology on the mainland," Mr Williams said.

"While we were doing that, we started to get Tassie tiger reports and we started to follow that up.

"I initially thought it couldn't exist and the quality of witnesses really surprised me.

"When I'm dealing with multiple witnesses especially on the same event, I just don't think that everyone of them is lying to or hoaxing me.

"When a husband and wife are sitting there and saying to me in 1994, 2004, or whatever, 'we saw three animals cross the road in front of us with a funny head, weird gait and stripes', I think they are telling the truth.

"All up, I have spoken to about 30 to 40 people."

Mr Williams said the last reported sighting he had received was 13 months ago when multiple witnesses allegedly watched a large adult male thylacine cross the road in the North-East.

He said if the carnivorous marsupial was still around, it would most likely be in the North-West or North East.

"The technology that I think will prove they do exist will be 'Joe Tourist' driving around with those crash cameras," Mr Williams said.

"At the moment I am primarily collecting reports and trying to find locations, farms and areas where the highest probability of me finding the tiger is.

"I'm looking for game trails to put cameras on."

Mr Williams said there were five other people in Tasmania searching for evidence and was excited for what may be discovered.

He said the best secondary evidence available was a coloured image of a thylacine's footprint, allegedly shot dead in 1990 near Adamsfield, published in Col Bailey's book.

"The original photo is in colour which means there was an animal existing, after the black and white era, so it was up to 1991 that they were still around, we believe," he said.

"What the museum does is play a subtle game with the truth, they go 'there is no secondary evidence'.

"If you speak to either of the museums when they get scats, they say 'this could be a Tassie tiger'.

"Their question is 'are you going to do DNA for it', and they say they 'don't have the budget'.

"If you go to the museum in Hobart they now use the term 'biological extinction', which is quite a weird argument.

"It means that it has got such a small genetic pool it has very little effect on the local fauna."

Mr Williams said he had been stalled by some Tasmanian private land owners, not wanting him to explore their land for various reasons.

"Eventually, we think it is worth a book - and after finding some really compelling evidence," he said.

"I think we will keep coming back for another 10 years.

"By that stage we will either be going 'yes we proved it' or know we are just deluded."

Mr Williams heads home on March 29 and is asking private land owners and those who believe they know where the animal is to call 0416 303 371.

Read the full story at The Examiner.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Tasmanian tiger trackers return to island for new expedition

An international team of Tasmanian tigers trackers is back in the island state for another Toyota-sponsored expedition to find the fabled creature.

The group of naturalists, headed by Mike Williams, returned last week to search for the thylacine, which was officially declared extinct in the early 1980s.

The last captive thylacine died in Hobart Zoo in 1936.

Joining Mr Williams on his latest six-week search will be zoologists and thylacine hunters from Britain and Denmark.

The expedition is being run by the Centre for Fortean Zoology, based in the UK and Australia, which investigates “mystery animals” considered rare, extinct or undiscovered.

It will be the group’s second expedition after travelling south in October 2013.

But Mr Williams, from New South Wales, has personally been searching for the largest known carnivorous marsupial of modern times for more than a decade

“If someone said to me when I first started that 10 years on we would still be getting tips — our last one was a year ago — I wouldn’t have believed you,” he said.

“With the increase of people using crash (dashboard-mounted) cameras, we believe a local using one might be a good chance of stumbling across a thylacine while driving.”


The five-person team arrived in the state last week and has already been following up tips and speaking to people who claim they spotted the animal in the state’s north.

They will explore areas around northern Tasmania for about four weeks before shifting their focus to the state’s isolated south-west.

“Tasmania is recognised as one of the most biologically rich places on the planet, so it makes sense that the Tasmanian tiger could survive in remote parts of the state,” Mr Williams said.

“We believe that there is a breeding pack somewhere in Tasmania but we need proof.”

Robert Paddle, who wrote a book on the history and extinction of the thylacine titled The Last Tasmanian Tiger, said finding proof might be impossible.

“I would love to be proved wrong,” he said.

“But there is a definition of extinction and to change that you need a body.”

Have you seen a thylacine? Call Mr Williams on 0416 303 371.


Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Search combs state for elusive Tasmanian Tiger

Mike Williams and Lars Thomas hit the Tiger trail.

An international team of naturalists from the Centre for Fortean Zoology has returned to Tasmania to search for the Tasmanian Tiger, Thylacinus cynocephalus, in one of the biggest concentrated ongoing searches yet for the elusive animal, which was officially declared extinct in the early 1980s.

Expedition leader Michael Williams said the six-week trip – once again generously sponsored by Toyota Australia - is exploring densely forested areas in the State’s north and south west.

"Tasmania is recognised as one of the most biologically rich places on the planet, so it makes sense that the Tasmanian Tiger could survive in remote parts of the State," Mr Williams said.

"Tasmania is also something of an ark for Australia, acting as a final refuge for many species declared extinct on the mainland, such as the Eastern quoll.

“As on previous trips, we have already collected several compelling accounts of recent sightings of the Tasmanian Tiger. On this trip we're hopeful of finding scats, hair or footage to back up claims this rare marsupial remains active in these areas."

Danish zoologist Lars Thomas has joined this year's expedition, and said the Tasmanian Tiger has long been a source of interest for him.

"The Tasmanian Tiger is possibly one of the most fascinating 'extinct' animals I can think of - for me it's very much an animal of the Victorian era, evoking the frontier times of Australia's convicts, colonists, and early Aboriginal tribes," Mr Thomas said.

"I think it's one of the few supposedly extinct animals on the planet that has the biggest likelihood of surviving."

The team is traversing the difficult terrain in two Toyota 4WD LandCruisers, using sophisticated game cameras, starlight scopes, and dash-cameras to monitor wildlife.

Expedition team members for 2015 include: Michael Williams (NSW/AUS), Lars Thomas (DENMARK), Dr Chris Clark (UK), Rebecca Lang (NSW/AUS), and Tony Healy (ACT/AUS).

Media Contact: Michael Williams on 0416 303 371.

Seen a Tiger? Share your sighting at cfzaustralia@yahoo.com.au

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

The Tasmanian Tiger: Extinct or Extant? makes Top 20

Great news!

The Tasmanian Tiger: Extinct or Extant? has made Loren Coleman's Top 20 list of best cryptozoology books for 2014.

Cryptomundo recently featured a guest blog post by anthology editor Rebecca Lang:

The last Thylacine in captivity died on September 7, 1936, ironically just two weeks shy of the species receiving protection status. In 1986, 50 years later, it would be declared extinct. By international standards it no longer exists, and is just another marsupial ghost haunting the Australian landscape following European settlement.

While Benjamin is often symbolically referred to as ‘The Last Thylacine’, in all likelihood the species persisted in the Tasmanian wilderness well into the 1930s, possibly until the 1950s. In 1980 then-Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife officer Steven Smith conducted a detailed study of sightings between 1934 and 1980, concluding of the 320 sightings, just under half could be considered good, if inconclusive.

Judging by the thousands of sightings logged by government departments and private research groups since that time, however, it may still roam remote parts of Tasmania...


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