n the striped and hairy history of the Tasmanian tiger, those who believe the extinct animal has quietly survived have offered up all kinds of evidence.
The animal, also known as a thylacine, was declared extinct 80 years ago.
But over the decades various people have offered hazy eyewitness accounts and undocumented physical evidence as proof that some are still out there.
This week, scientis in Austrailia announced they will once again look for the tiger after several recent sightings. Scientists plan to set up more than 50 camera traps to try to spot a “tiger.”
The renewed interest in the tiger follows two credible sightings in the region, including one by Brian Hobbs, a former tourism operator who revealed earlier this month he had spotted a family of the animals in 1983 after they startled his German shepherd. “These animals, I’ve never seen anything like them before in my life,” he told ABC Radio.
“They were dog-shaped – I had a shepherd with me so I certainly know what dogs are about – and in the spotlight I could see they were tan in colour and they had stripes on their sides.”
Lots Of Sightings Over The Years
Last year a grainy video posted online by the Thylacine Awareness Group showed an animal with a long tail moving through a backyard.
Amateur researcher Neil Waters claimed it shows a small thylacine, alive and well in South Australia’s Adelaide Hills.
He has a theory that the carnivorous marsupial may have survived undiscovered on mainland Australia because it is an migratory apex predator which may burrow dens.
“I first saw it in a book when I was a lad in primary school and it said ‘presumed extinct’ and it sparked something in my mind way back then that’s never really gone away,” he told the BBC.
Mr Waters also dismisses the suggestion that the search for the creature enters the realm of cryptozoology.
“There’s plenty of specimens in museums around the world that proves this animal really did exist,” he said.
“I guess that gives us one advantage over someone that’s looking for Big Foot or a UFO.”
Experts have roundly debunked the footage, arguing the blurry video does nothing to prove the continuing existence of the thylacine
They point out that evidence of dead prey should also have been found.
Dr Karl Kruszelnicki, a science commentator based at the University of Sydney, said the most surprising thing about the footage was its terrible quality.
“It’s remarkable that it is out of focus in a time that we have autofocus cameras,” he said.
His explanation for the perpetuation of the belief unexplained phenomenon is simple.
“For some people the world around them, they don’t understand it, so they have to make stuff up.”
The last known Tasmanian tiger died at Hobart zoo in 1936. The species was deliberately hunted to extinction by farmers incensed at the number of sheep killed by the carnivores.
However, thousands of sighting have been reported in Tasmania and mainland Australian in the decades since.
In 2005, The Bulletin magazine offered a A$1.25m (£700,000; $1m) reward for the capture of a live thylacine.
Scientists have even spoken about resurrecting the species through cloning schemes reminiscent of Jurassic Park.
Dr Cath Temper, a mammals expert from the South Australian museum, said the latest footage “could really be anything”.
While there is a remote possibility there could be a few survivors in Tasmania, she says, this is unlikely to be the real thing, as “there’s never been a thylacine specimen from the mainland”.
“But you never know,” she said. “It would be arrogant if I said there was no chance.”