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Posted by apewit on 2007.02.03 at 13:55
Save the Tasmanian Devil Website

The official site run by the Tasmanian Government and the University of Tasmania.

Information the the devils, the disease, and volunteer and donation information.


It now comes down to money...

Posted by apewit on 2007.01.05 at 05:40
Recent articles on the plight of the Tasmanian Devil against Devil Facial Tumor Disease (DFTD) are down to the question of being able to afford the research and conservation programs. Money is running out, and funds are needed for keeping the animals in the 'backup population' program which has shipped devils to other states free of DFTD as well as research into the causes of DFTD. It seems Warner Brothers has finally (reluctantly) decided to allow a limited use of the sale of Taz products to help save the actual animal, and there is mention of at least one fundraising event in Tasmania.

A Tasmanian biologist is also in New York attempting to develop a test to diagnose the disease. The following links are to the articles online:

"More Money Needed for Devils to Survive" Examiner online

"Fight Against Devil Disease Needs Funding" ABC online

"Biologist in US Pitch For Help"Tasmania Mercury online

"Fine Wine to Raise Money for Devil Research" ABC online

There is also mention of a devil in the backup population program that has died of stress related problems, the article is short but it seems the devil wasn't infected.

"Travel Stress Thought to be Devil Death Cause" ABC online

I've not seen any conservation/sponsorship along these lines online, unless there's one I'm not aware of.


Tassie Devils to be Shipped to other states

Posted by apewit on 2006.12.07 at 16:24
The Tasmanian devil has been under threat from Devil Facial Tumor Disease and the recent bad news that foxes are established in Tasmania, there's been some real fear the devils may go extinct. Recently, it has been decided to send groups of devils to disease free states on the mainland for an extensive breeding program.

Article in The Australian

Article in the courier Mail

ABC news online article

From what I gather from these articles is the plan is to breed them on a reserve and return them to Tasmania once they either find a vaccine or cull diseased devils.


Thylacine Videos?

Posted by apewit on 2006.10.27 at 11:58
I saw the first video originally posted by chika_jin, and thought it was worth posting, I found a shorter one on YouTube looking for the longer.

This is the shorter one I found on YouTube. You can't see much because it's so short, and it looks like someone zoomed in on the animal in post to give a better view of it. Not sure if it's a dog or not, but the heavy head and thin hindquarters are interesting. Seems it was filmed in 1979.

This is the longer one form chika_jin's original post, showing a possible thylacine running across the road, filmed in 1973. It shows the animal on a run cycle, and since I haven't come across any real running videos of living thylacines, it's hard to tell exactly what a running thylacine would look like. Eyewitness accounts from the late 19th and early 20th centuries of living animals seem to say it had a stiff, bounding gait, so the only thing I can think of is comparing it to a canid run cycle, since if it's not a thylacine, it's most likely a dog of some kind.

I searched 'running dog' on YouTube just to get some videos of well, dogs running, so here's a few:

pair of poodles

dog chasing a boy

No idea who those are, just giving a couple of shots of dogs running.

For comparison, Here's the most comprehensive archive of thylacine footage I've seen online, at the Thylacine Museum

The longer one looks interesting, but as always I'm usually skeptical about these things. Although, this may mean a relict population had survived into the 1970's and possibly early 80's. Aside from this, there's nothing recent that makes me even wonder if it's real, most recent stuff looks more like photoshopped old thylacine photos, like the infamous German tourist shots that caused such fuss last year. But as always, I'm no expert so I'm not always right. This does make me wonder though, as it's a lot less 'hidden' than the others. The person filming it seems to be making an effort to keep the camera steady and it's not -too- blurry, but you still can't really see the markings or anything with absolute clarity. Still a lot better than a vague shape hiding behind leaves.

Cross posted to lostmarsupials


What on Earth is THAT?

Posted by apewit on 2006.09.29 at 09:57
Europeans and the platypus:

Some of the first impressions on the platypus, as seen by Europeans who first encountered and fought over just how to classify it. It was first assumed to be similar to the Feejee Mermaid, a fake creature stitched together, but observations by naturalists soon confirmed there was an apparently beaked mammal, dubbed the 'duck bill mole' by colonists, living in Australia. The biggest argument was over exactly how the animal reproduced. I was observed a having a reproductive track similar to a bird, but females were reported to produce milk. It was not until eggs were found in the uterus of a female specimen sent to Richard Owen in 1832 that it was begrudgingly accepted the platypus did in fact lay eggs. Accounts had been given of female platypuses producing milk, but this was not accepted until Owen studied platypus neonates in 1834. Owen found not only that the babies' mouths were, unlike adults, shaped to allow suckling, but milk was present in their stomachs.

Some observations by Europeans:

"Of all the Mammalia yet known, it seems the most extraordinary in it's conformation; Exhibiting the perfect resemblance of the beak of a duck engrafted on the head of a quadruped." "I almost doubted the testimony of my own eyes with respect to the structure of this animal's beak.."-Dr George Shaw, Naturalist, with regards to specimen obtained in 1799.
It was Shaw who gave the platypus it's first Linnean name, Platypus anatinus. It was alsmot simultaneuosly named Ornithorhyncus paradoxus by comparitive anatomist Johann Blumenbach. The two names were used side by side, until it was discovered the genus platypus had already been given to a beetle in 1793, and the two were combined to the modern Ornithorhyncus anatinus.

"[the platypus] seems to be an animal sui generis; it appears to posses a three fold nature, that of a fish, a bird, and a quadruped,and is related to nothing that we have hitherto seen."-Thomas Bewick, England, 1800, in General History of Quadrupeds

"Earlier in the evening, I had been lying on a sunny bank & reflecting on the strange character of the animals in the country as compared ot the rest of the world. A disbeliever in everything beyond his own reason, might exclaim, 'Surely two distinct Creators must have been at work.'"-Charles Darwin, Diary at Wallerawang, 1830's.

Source and good book on humanity's attempt to understand the platypus:

Platypus: The Extraordinary Story of How a Curious Creature Baffled the World" By Ann Moyal.

... and there's always room for more theories.


Thylacine photo News

Posted by apewit on 2006.08.12 at 09:12
Supposed first release of the infamous thylacine photos taken by a German tourist that made waves recently. For those who don't remember: supposedly a German tourist took this photo of a thylacine while on vacation, and went public saying he had the images. When the Australian government offered a sizable sum of money to take and analyze them, he then 'grew shy of the publicity' and went underground with them. If there are the actual photos, my thinking is he realized anyone could see they're fakes.

They look hauntingly familiar to This famous image, taken by Fleay, with a little editing to close the mouth, as well as This image taken at the London zoo. The second one looks like whatever image was used in the first slid forward a little to make it appear the animal is 'moving'.

Also, an article claiming another famous photo taken in the 1920's may have been little more than a mounted animal with a chicken in it's mouth. But I'm not so sure that one was faked.

Cross posted to lostmarsupials


3D digital images

Posted by apewit on 2006.07.08 at 21:05
Not all of them are marsupials, but mammals are all grouped together.

A great site that provides digital images of animal anatomy, for research, drawing, etc. taken from actual specimens.
Uses Quicktime for animated rolling images.

Sample page: Tasmanian devil


Marsupials and Monotremes of Papua New Guinea

Posted by apewit on 2006.06.05 at 21:51
Papua New Guinea is another not often thought of area of marsupial diversity, as well as home to another monotreme, the long beaked echidna. PNG is also home to a variety of wallabies, possums, cuscuses, and tree kangaroos. Although found in PNG, some of these animals may range into northern Australia and Indonesia.

Some images and information on a few PNG marsupials and monotremes:

The black spotted cuscus (Spilocuscus rufoniger) (also found in Australia)

Spotted cuscus image

Long beaked echidna (Zaglossus bruijni) (also found in Indonesia)

Long beaked echidna image

Goodfellow's Tree Kangaroo (Dendrolagus goodfellowi)

Goodfellow's tree kangaroo image

Tenkile tree kangaroo (Dendrolagus scottae) (restricted to only a single province in Papua New Guinea)

Tenkile image

Papuaweb:Tree Kangaroos

<a href="http://www.animalinfo.org/country/papua_ne.htm>General Animals of New Guinea information</a>

Posted by apewit on 2006.05.23 at 19:43
The first place most people think of when they think of marsupials is Australia, the Americas usually come second... mostly because the diversity of forms is higher in Australia, but there are several species of opossum in the Americas. North America had a great diversity of Marsupials before the end of the Cretaceous, but now only a single lineage survives (modern north american opossums, (the Didelphamorphs). Marsupials fared better in South America, and since the paleocene made up 50% of the fauna, including such animals as the predators Borhyaena and Thylocosmilus before South America's isolation ended and placental carnivores arrived in the cenozoic era. South America today still has a diverse number of species, including many opossum species and the monito del monte.

So here's some links on the marsupials of the Americas:

American Marsupials (University of Edinburgh)

The Virginia Opossum

South American Opossums

Monito del monte (Washington State University)
Monito De monte (University of michigan Diversity web)

and then there's the infamous Dreamworks Opossums.


Upcoming Tasmanian Devil Book

Posted by apewit on 2006.05.17 at 01:21
Now available for pre-order on Amazon.com:
Tasmanian Devil: A Unique and Threatened Animal By David Owen

Book description from amazon.com:
"Packed with information that has only been published in scientific journals, if ever at all, this collection of biological facts challenges the misconceptions associated with Australia's most famous marsupial. Far from being a scavenging, ferocious oddity, an image perpetuated by the infamous cartoon character, the Tasmanian Devil is actually a treasured and valuable wildlife species facing extinction. By sharing the surprising, controversial, funny, and tragic history behind the world's largest marsupial carnivore, this new guidebook covers all aspects of the biology and the habitat of the Tasmanian Devil."

This is the first 'general public' publication on the tasmanian devil I have seen that is not aimed at children. Although I (obviously) can't vouch for how good it is yet, Owen's other non-fiction book Tasmanian Tiger: The Tragic Tale of How the World Lost it's Most Mysterious Predator Is a good read with lots of information without getting as 'technical' as Robert Paddle's "Thylacine Bible",The Last Tasmanian Tiger: The History and Extinction of the Thylacine

The book is set for publication on July 1 of this year.

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