By Tim Binnall
After a whirlwind week in which they were the subject of considerable speculation, a Tasmanian Tiger researcher's purported photos of a juvenile thylacine have been released to the public and, unfortunately, the nature of the creature in question is rather hard to decipher. The strange saga of the game camera shots began last Monday when Neil Waters of the Thylacine Awareness Group of Australia posted a YouTube video in which he announced that the organization had acquired unambiguous images of what he described as a baby thylacine.
His confident claim sparked considerable excitement in both the cryptozoological community as well as the world of mainstream science, however the assertion was quickly upended when Nick Mooney, who is considered the preeminent analyst of alleged thylacine evidence, argued that the animal seen in the photos is, in fact, a Tasmanian pademelon. This set off a second round of discussion online and in the media wherein Waters' account was considered debunked and he became the subject of a fair amount of ridicule over the whole affair.
However, the researcher remained steadfast in his assessment of the photos and, on Sunday, he posted a new video to YouTube (seen above) that showcases the three much-discussed-but-heretofore-unseen images along with his analysis and some comments from unnamed wildlife experts who, to varying degrees, support his conclusion that the creature seen in the photos is a Tasmanian Tiger. Pointing specifically to a color photo that shows a small animal walking through some heavy brush, Waters declares that he is "absolutely confident" that it is a thylacine.
For his part, Mooney has also not wavered from his analysis, telling the website CNET that "animal colour, lack of bands, body shape and some foot detail" led him to his determination that the creature is a Tasmanian pademelon. "If these were videos not stills," he said, "there would have been no question." And with that, it would seem, the debate between the thylacine researcher and the wildlife expert has reached something of a stalemate with the public being left to decide for themselves whether the photos show a baby Tasmanian Tiger or something far more prosaic.