Up until recently, is was a common held belief that the legendary Tasmanian tigers became extinct both because people got into the habit of hunting them on a regular basis, and because the species was hit by some mysterious disease.
However, a new study maintains that this species' completely falling off the biodiversity map must not be attributed to the aforementioned combination of factors.
Quite the contrary: it looks like humans alone are to blame for the Tasmanian tiger's extinction in the 20th century.
More precisely, this new study claims that these meat-eating marsupials were intensely hunted by people who claimed that they often fed on livestock, and that this translated into their population being completely wiped out.
Interestingly enough, some researchers argue that, judging by their anatomy, it would have been rather difficult for these animals to hunt down and kill sheep and other similar domestic animals, simply because their jaws were not strong enough to take down anything larger than a possum.
Live Science informs us that the Tasmanian tiger, known to science as Thylacinus cynocephalus, used to inhabit the Australian island of Tasmania, and that, up until its bumping into European settlers, the species was not just doing ok: it was pretty much thriving.
Thus, such meat-eating marsupials were to be found all throughout said island.
However, once the Tasmanian government placed a bounty on Thylacinus cynocephalus carcasses, on account of this species' negatively impacting on farming activities in the area, the animals were hunted to extinction.
“Many people, however, believe that bounty hunting alone could not have driven the thylacine extinct and therefore claim that an unknown disease epidemic must have been responsible,” argued researcher Thomas Prowse, presently working with Australia's University of Adelaide.
“The new model simulated the directs effects of bounty hunting and habitat loss and, importantly, also considered the indirect effects of a reduction in the thylacine's prey (kangaroos and wallabies) due to human harvesting and competition from millions of introduced sheep,” he went on to add.
Hopefully, these findings concerning how it was exactly that the Tasmanian tiger became extinct will help promote ongoing conservation projects in various parts of the world.