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The Last Tasmanian Tiger: The History and Extinction of the Thylacine Paperback – 4 Sep 2002

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Product details

  • Paperback: 284 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; New Ed edition (4 Sep 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521531543
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521531542
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.5 x 22.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 810,978 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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'… seldom can a new writer have entered the literary arena with a more important volume.' Zoo, Independent Zoo Enthusiasts Society

'I can pay no finer tribute than to say that we now know the Thylacine a good deal better thanks to this book.' Zoo, Independent Zoo Enthusiasts Society

'… a thoughtful search for the context in which ideas about the thylacine and its biology have been formulated and promulgated.' Historical Records of Australian Science

' … a fascinating blend of meticulous scholarship and barely suppressed fury. As the contradictory reports were piled up dryly and relentlessly, I laughed until I cried. In this way, the book achieves a rich and plausible picture of the Thylacine's natural and unnatural history, before and during its decline to extinction.' The Quarterly Review of Biology

'Paddle's account achieves the rare double distinction of meeting the highest standards of academic rigour while at the same time speaking eloquently to a non-specialist audience. … his subject is now a creature of near-iconic standing and national guilt makes it all the more accessible and fascinating.' Australian Journal of Environmental Education

'… a masterful study of what must be almost everything that is known about the thylacine, and it contains a large number of photographs of thylacines in all sorts of postures that have never been widely reproduced before.' Archives of Natural History

'… excellent, very thorough study … flows well and provides a most interesting and easy read. So much so, that the book received the Whitley Medal of the Zoological Society of New South Wales for the best science book of 2001 … The whole is beautifully researched and documented …'. The Environmentalist

Book Description

This insightful book is the most complete examination of the history and extinction of one of Australia's most enduring folkloric beasts - the thylacine, otherwise affectionately known as the Tasmanian tiger. It challenges conventional theories explaining the behaviour and eventual extinction of the Tasmanian tiger.

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First Sentence
Species finally depart the biota, not with a bang but a whimper. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By G. Gilpin on 3 Jan 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
You have to feel sorry for the thylacine. Hunted to extinction with a price on its head for allegedly killing sheep but with a protection order at the same time! So this is a sad book, mainly detailing the animal's exploits against man. There are some photos (generally of poor quality) of killed specimens and of animals in zoos, including some of Benjamin, the last surviving thylacine kept in Hobart zoo. (Ben was found to be a female after it died in 1936.) It's a fantastic story and the book is what it says it is, ie the history of the extinction. Personally, I'd have liked more on the zoology and convergent evolution pertaining to the thylacine but that's criticising a dog for not being a cat (so to speak).

Some people still hope to find a living specimen, lurking behind a clump of bushes in Tasmania. I'd like to think there was some chance of that but in my heart of hearts I accept that the tiger has gone forever. (There was some work to clone one from a preserved specimen... we shall see.)
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Robert Paddle scrutinizes the myths and points out hidden and forgotten knowledge about the Thylacine, suggesting that the scientific study of the Thylacine is not over.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Mr. S. Milton on 13 Sep 2009
Format: Paperback
I read this book and felt an incandescent rage against those who persecuted this creature. I will state that before I read this book I was highly opinionated that the extinction of the Tasmanian Tiger was an atrocity. After reading the book I was amazed at the weakness of the efforts to conserve this magnificent animal and the sophistry that was used to justify the means to effect its extinction.

OK onto the book. Paddle takes the story up from the start of European settlement of Tasmania. He shows that the Tiger was used as a Scapegoat for failures in the sheep industry. He effectively illustrates that prejudices in the science community and the terrible zoo-keeping which failed to save this animal from extinction. That liars (for economic and political gains), credulous people, government-paid bounty trappers and farmers killed this species. Although the animal was in a seriously close situation to extinction, at the latter part of the 19th Century and the early part of the 20th century, the arguments for lifting a hunting ban where ignored. That the protection of this creature was only lifted days before the last one died (of terrible neglect in Hobart Zoo). That even after its extinction, even into the 1980's false stories, about the Tiger were still being widely excepted as true.
Paddle doesn't cover the recent efforts to bring the Tiger back to life through cloning. I do believe that there was no obligation on his part to do so.
He also showed that it was humans too that were responsible for the Thylacine's demise on the mainland of Australia.
The Tiger had an interesting close social structure and were capable of being domesticated.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4 reviews
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
a book that does what the title says 14 May 2002
By MR G J SLATER - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
i write this recommendation to emphasise to potential readers that this is a very worthy study of the extinction of the Thylacine. whilst true that this book will not inspire hope that this most unique of creatures survives, it does unravel the reasoning behind it's rapid fall into extinction. Paddle offers a gentle introduction to the species' biology and ecology, aswell as a history in captivity, but it is his research of bounty records and contemperary accounts that sets this work above others. scientific maybe, but well planned, researched and written, and the twist he brings in regarding the reason for the bounty is worthy of an agatha christie novel! an excellent piece of work and well suited to conservation biologists, natural historians and anyone with an interest in the twentieth century's greatest loss.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Hopefully Not The Last. 23 Jan 2014
By Paul Money - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A very well written and comprehensively documented book. The author has gone to a lot of trouble to back his views as any dedicated historian should. Paddle has uncovered many myths about the thylacine and has revealed the fact the humans would have benefited by the loyalty and companionship of this creature. The thylacine has many things in common with the domesticated dog (though of course it is a marsupial. )
This does not mean I agree with everything Paddle says but he does uncover attitudes all too common in the study of any historical subject. That is the tendency to generalise from one example. For example because one thylacine wouldn't eat wombat in one particular place the idea got around that 'thylacines wouldn't eat wombat.' A small point, I know, but this tendency to generalise from one example is very common in historical studies. It is related to the laziness of people who want simple answers when in fact history is often very complex. Paddle demonstrates a complex view of the history of the thylacine.
Not being an evolutionist I see the history of the thylacines differently than Paddle though I have great respect for the effort and professionalism he has put into this book. Paddle is honest in the sense he would be extremely happy to be proved wrong and that the thylacine still exists. (Not stated in this book but in an interview.)
Excellent 22 Feb 2014
By Peter McLoughlin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An excellent book from some one who grew up in Southern Tasmania and knew people who had seen this animal in the wild.
6 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Controversial Theories Versus Accepted Logic 19 Mar 2001
By Col Bailey - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Robert Paddle's controversial book, The Last Tasmanian Tiger, attempts to overturn most previously accepted anecdotal reasoning on a subject that is fast becoming popular world wide. Paddle has rather recklessly thrown caution to the wind in his sometimes dangerous dismantilling of sound anecdotal evidence, replacing it with his own logic, which is in many cases sadly wide of the mark. The Last Tasmanian Tiger could prove to be a dangerous book in the wrong hands, for it could lead astray those tender souls genuinely seeking information of this unique creature. Being pro-scientific as it is, Paddle's book is written in a style that can be hard to decipher for us mere mortals. But, all this aside, Paddle has done a tremendous ammount of research in assembling his book, some of it ground breaking, and from this point alone it makes worthwhile reading. The Last Tasmanian Tiger is definitely not suitable for the novice thylacine enthusiast.
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