By Tim Binnall
A family in New Zealand were pleasantly surprised when they discovered that they had been unknowingly in possession of a valuable Tasmanian Tiger skin for decades. The precious pelt had reportedly been part of a private collection of wildlife pieces that were amassed by a man named Archie Robertson in the 1920's. Amazingly, the thylacine skin had been kept in a desk drawer of the family's home for an astounding 76 years without anyone realizing the rare nature of the item.
Eventually, Robertson's collection, including the pelt, was loaned to a taxidermy museum in 1999 where, once again, it went largely unnoticed for nearly two decades. Finally, it caught the attention of some college students who were visiting the site last year and identified the uniquely-striped skin as being that of the long lost Tasmanian Tiger. A later examination of the pelt by experts determined that it is one of the best-preserved specimens of the believed-to-be-extinct creature in existence.
With the help of a conservator, Robertson's heirs subsequently sold the rare thylacine skin to the National Museum of Australia for what is believed to be around $135,000 American dollars. Although the exact amount has yet to be officially announced by the museum, it is thought that the pelt fetched a record price for a Tasmanian Tiger artifact. Given the great condition of the skin, there is hope that it could provide genetic material to scientists aiming to resurrect the extinct creature using modern technology.