You are in site section: Media

Mummified thylacine has national message

16 JUNE 2004

A rare mummified thylacine head goes on show at the National Museum of Australia this Friday, reminding Australians about the animal's former presence on the mainland.

The fragile head - estimated to be more than 3000 years old - was discovered in a limestone cave on the Nullarbor in 1990.

National Museum curator Pip McNaught said this thylacine's history helped to dispel the myth that thylacines - or Tasmanian tigers - were found only in Tasmania.

'Thylacines were once widespread across mainland Australia, extending north to Papua New Guinea and south to Tasmania,' says Ms McNaught.

'This head is perfectly preserved, largely because the Nullarbor caves are very cool and dry, with conditions very similar to those of Egyptian tombs. You can still clearly see this ancient animal's eyelashes, ears and whiskers.'

Media are invited to the installation of the thylacine head at 10am this Friday, 18 June, in the Museum's Tangled Destinies gallery.

The thylacine head is being displayed in the National Museum's Tangled Destinies gallery, which explores the interaction of land and people in the environment, including the impact of introduced species on native flora and fauna.

'Fossil evidence of thylacines has been found in every Australian state. Thylacines became extinct on the Australian mainland around 3000 years ago, after the introduction of dingoes,' says Ms McNaught.

The head goes on show alongside the National Museum's thylacine skin, from an animal which died in Tasmania in the 1930s.

'Visitors continue to be fascinated by the story of the thylacine's extinction in 1936 - the same year the animal was declared a protected species,' says Ms McNaught.

For interviews or more information please contact Public Affairs Director Martin Portus on 02 6208 5351, 0409 916 481 or m.portus@nma.gov.au