A curious question surrounding the extinction of the legendary Tasmanian Tiger in Australia may have finally been answered by scientists.
Researchers have long wondered why the once-flourishing creature seemingly vanished from mainland Australia 3,000 years ago, yet managed to survive on the island of Tasmania up until about a century ago.
The introduction of wild dingoes to the Australian ecosystem as well as hunting of the thylacine by Aborigines were frequently assumed to be the cause of the animal's sudden demise.
However, a new study which looked at a large sampling of Tasmanian Tiger DNA found in fossils from that era appears to tell a different story.
The findings from this recently-published research indicate that the creatures on mainland Australia experienced a rapid population loss that scientists behind the project concluded was caused by climate change, specifically drought brought upon by El Nino.
Thylacines residing on Tasmania, they suspect, were able to survive because the island's climate would have offered the animals better protection from the difficult conditions created by the weather system.
While the study should shed some light on the thylacine's distant past, many Tasmanian Tiger enthusiasts argue that the creature was not actually wiped out on mainland Australia as occasional sightings continue to occur to this day.
That, of course, remains a hotly contested debate which has reignited in recent years as thylacine research groups strive to find proof that the still-living animal is lurking somewhere in the wilds of Australia while skeptics say that simply is not possible.