Tassie tiger pelt bought for $5 at garage sale

By John Pickrell 8 November 2013
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The US man who bought the skin of an extinct species now hopes to sell it for $68,000.

THIS IS A LUCKY BREAK if ever I saw one. A US newspaper reports that a local man picked up what appears to be a Tasmanian tiger pelt at a garage sale in San Diego for just $5. He’s already in negotiations with an Australian auction house, which says it last shifted a single thylacine pelt for $68,000, and a rug made of eight pelts for a whopping $260,000.

“I didn’t know what it was,” Bill Warren told the San Diego Union Tribune this week, adding that “It pays to go to garage sales sometimes.” He bought the skin in June from a woman who said she found it at a garage sale herself in Boston, 30 years earlier. 

At first glance, the pelt certainly has the distinctive striped markings of a Tasmanian tiger – see an image of Bill holding it here – but I guess the look would be easy to fabricate if you knew what you were doing.  

After reviewing some images, Professor John Long – formerly of Museum Victoria in Melbourne and now at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County – told Bill that he agrees it looks like a Tassie tiger, but pricey genetic tests will be necessary to confirm it.

If it really is a thylacine, the best place for it is in the collections of an Australian museum, where it can be used to increase our knowledge about a beautiful and enigmatic creature that is now forever lost to us (the thylacine genome project is one example of research that could benefit from it).

The last known Tasmanian tiger, the largest marsupial carnivore of recent times, died in Hobart Zoo in 1936 after a prolonged campaign to exterminate it by European settlers of Tasmania. A much-loved Tassie icon today, it can be found adorning everything from state emblems to beer bottles.

Read the original story here, at the San Diego Union Tribune.
On this day: Death of the last Tasmanian tiger
More funding needed for thylacine genome

Historical footage of the last Tasmanian Tiger known to be alive. It died in 1936 and none have been seen since.