Thursday, May 12, 2005

Haunting footage of the Tasmanian Tiger

Following a lead from Boing Boing, I watched this short video of the last Tasmanian Tiger and found it heart-wrenchingly haunting.

Then I read ?Andrew Haig's post on one+one=thr33, "Catch that 'Tiger'" and found he (and presumably many Aussies) felt the same way or worse.

"This image is one familiar to many Australians. It's also one of the most haunting to us as well. It's from a grainy black and white film shot of the last remaining Tasmanian tiger, or Thylacine, in Hobart Zoo in 1933.

The film runs only nine seconds – but it's one of the few glimpses any of us will have of the now supposedly extinct mammal – remarkable for reportedly being able to open its jaws wider than any other mammal (a range of 120 degrees) and for being the world's largest marsupial carnivore. And – for embedding itself into 'Australian mythology' as a mysterious and intangible, almost supernatural creature.

I'd propose that while Abraham Zapruder's footage of JFK being shot in Dallas has an eerie resonance with many Americans, for me this simple, nine second film connects on an almost spiritual level for many Australians. It certainly haunts me every time I see it."

The feeling both of us felt may not be unusual. In "Before they disappeared", a 2003 HERO feature article about ARKive, the writer says of ARKive, respository of audio-visual material of extinct and endagered species,

"Viewing the archive elicits simultaneous sensations of wonder and sadness. The Princeton ecologist Andrew P Dobson has dubbed it a collection whose "images will haunt our grandchildren" and the procession of threatened lifeforms will no doubt already seem frightening to many people."

Will we ever do better?

See ARKive's footage of the Thyalcine

1 comment:

Husky said...

Just to add on to this, if I may - the project to clone the Tassie tiger, which were almost abandoned a few years ago, has recently been thrown into the spotlight once again in the Aussie papers.

The project's website is: