By John Fairley
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Extra resources for Arthur C. Clarke's chronicles of the strange and mysterious
Athol Douglas, until recently Senior Experimental Officer at the Western Australian Museum in Perth, is convinced that the animal is a thylacine. Dr Ronald Strahan of the Australian Museum, and formerly Director of Sydney's Taronga Park Zoo, regards the pictures as authentic and says that the animal could not be anything but a thylacine. Kevin Cameron also possesses casts which show the distinctive pattern of the Tasmanian tiger: five toes on the forefeet and only four on the hind. Meanwhile, in the rough terrain of the centre and north of Tasmania itself, expeditions continue to try to prove that the animal survives.
But, in its resolution, it was to provide a fascinating insight into the state of 'wildman' research in China. For the creature turned out to be a previously unknown type of monkey - the very animal that had been predicted by Chinese researcher Zhou Guoxing in his analysis of wildman evidence. Zhou, a staff member at the Peking Natural History Museum, and his colleague, Professor Wu Dingliang, Director of Anthropological Research at Shanghai's Fudan University, had both taken part in the vast Chinese Academy of Sciences expedition in 1977 to the Shennongjia Mountains.
There has been no carbon-dated evidence more recent than that; the creature seems to have been unknown to the Aboriginals, and was not seen by any of the early settlers. It hung on only in Tasmania, where the question of its survival is a separate and intriguing mystery, since the last known tiger died in Hobart Zoo in 1936. No one would be amazed if evidence emerged that tigers have survived in Tasmania. But the idea of tigers on the mainland seems absurd. Undoubtedly there were once thylacines on mainland Australia and, indeed, stories of their survival were finally corroborated in 1966 when David Lowry found the skin of a thylacine in a cave on the Mundrabilia cattle station in Western Australia.
Arthur C. Clarke's chronicles of the strange and mysterious by John Fairley