Despite renewed hopes that the famed Tasmanian Tiger may not be extinct, a new research project suggests that the possibility is an enormous long shot.
Environmental scientists from the University of California compiled a database of confirmed and unconfirmed thylacine sightings since 1900.
They then used that data to develop a mathematical model to determine if and when the dwindling population of the creature would have reached zero.
For fans of the allegedly elusive creature, the findings are rather troubling as researchers found that the odds of the thylacine still being alive today is an astounding 1 in 1.6 trillion!
In fact, the best case scenario according to the model is that the creature died out at some point in the 1950's.
The findings appear to confirm a similar study conducted by an Australian university which concluded that the thylacine likely would not have survived past 1983.
While the results of the study are no doubt disheartening to those who believe that the creature still exists, the news was not a surprise to the team of Australia scientists planning to launch a project looking for the creature.
"We agree that it's exceedingly unlikely," professor Bill Laurance told New Scientist, "we've been saying that from the outset."
Laurance credited the mathematical model with "injecting a note of sobriety into the discussion" after headlines about their study suggested that the discovery of a living thylacine may have only been a matter of time.
Nonetheless, Laurance and his colleagues are pressing ahead with their research project using an elaborate series of game traps placed in remote parts of the Australian wilderness.
Should their study prove successful in showing that the thylacine still exists, the creature will have beaten some incredible odds and may lay claim to the title of nature's ultimate comeback story.
Source: New Scientist