An Australian film archive released colorized footage of the last known Tasmanian tiger, or thylacine, this week ― 85 years after the species went extinct.
The short video was filmed at a zoo in Hobart, Tasmania in 1933 and shows the thylacine, named Benjamin, padding around a small enclosure. Benjamin died in captivity three years later and the Tasmanian tiger was declared extinct.
Although the footage was originally shot on 35mm film, the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia hired an expert colorization team led by Samuel François-Steininger to spruce up the archival footage.
The colorization was a challenge as just 3 minutes of total footage existed of the thylacine, all in black-and-white. François-Steininger relied on drawings, paintings and preserved thylacine pelts in museums to accurately color the footage.
“For the thylacine, I faced a different kind of challenge and responsibility: I had to take care of the rare footage and pay tribute to the last representative of a species, which disappeared 85 years ago,” François-Steininger said in a statement this week.
Rumors have persisted for decades in Australia of sightings of rogue thylacines, which are described as resembling a cross between a cat, a fox and a wolf. A marsupial, the creatures had a pouch in which they carried their young, akin to kangaroos and wallabies.
Thylacines were once widespread on continental Australia but became extinct on the mainland about 2,000 years ago. It was later confined to Tasmania, where populations declined likely due to conflict with humans, the Australian Museum noted.
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