'If that's not a thylacine I'll eat my hat': South Australian teacher films 'Tasmanian tiger'

A South Australian schoolteacher has filmed what he believes could be a thylacine.

News Corp reports Paul Day, 52, was out filming a sunrise on farmland near Moonta on the Yorke Peninsula when he spotted a four-legged creature running across the horizon.

The animal appears to be running with the same style attributed to the Tasmanian tiger.

Mr Day said he thought at first the animal was a fox or a dog.

The creature's bizarre running style is said to be similar to the thylacine's. Source: YouTube
The creature's bizarre running style is said to be similar to the thylacine's. Source: YouTube

“It wasn’t until I saw footage of another thylacine sighting on Facebook that it dawned on me,” he said.

“I thought to myself: ‘If that’s not a thylacine I’ll eat my hat’.”

The last known thylacine died in captivity in Hobart’s Beaumaris Zoo in 1936.

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Mr Day uploaded the video to YouTube to let viewers make up their own minds and it already has more than 125,000 views.

But one person who didn’t need convincing was Thylacine Awareness Group of Australia founder Neil Waters who said his “heart skipped a beat” when he say Mr Day’s video.

“This animal has a tail with a thick base, just like a thylacine, and there appears to be some discolouration on its back,” he said.

“Then it has this gait that is so peculiar, but it’s just like people have described the thylacine movement.”

Thylacines in captivity. Source: AAP
Thylacines in captivity. Source: AAP

Mr Waters said he drove from Adelaide to Yorke Peninsula to meet Mr Day and believed the video was the best evidence the thylacine was not extinct.

However, Zoologist and University of Adelaide Academic Kristofer Helgen was sceptical after viewing the video and said the creature could have been a “fox that is probably lame or injured”.

According to scientists the odds of the Tasmanian tiger still existing are about one in 1.6 trillion.

While there are occasional claims of sightings of the animal, competition with dingoes drove the species to extinction on the mainland of Australia almost 2000 years ago.

Mathematical modelling by Colin Carlson at the University of California, and his colleagues, suggest the probability of Tasmanian tigers being alive in 2017 is virtually zero.

His team collected data on confirmed and unconfirmed sightings from 1900 onwards to model the likelihood of thylacines being extinct at different points in time.

The last known thylacine. Source: AAP
The last known thylacine. Source: AAP

Their least optimistic scenario considered only the confirmed sightings, whereas the most optimistic factored in the unconfirmed sightings.

The team’s most optimistic estimate predicts that thylacines could have clung on in the wild only until the late 1950s.

The probability that they are still alive in 2017 is 1 in 1.6 trillion, the modelling suggests.

Based purely on recorded sightings, the research may be less applicable to far-flung wildernesses like Cape York, Brendan Wintle at the University of Melbourne in Victoria, Australia said.

His research team has developed an alternative model that includes data about previous searches in remote regions, as well as aspects of the animal’s biology and behaviour such as its nocturnal nature, which makes sighting less likely, and its size.