Thursday, May 12, 2005

Thyla-unseen?

Brian
I know that there are those of you out there who depend on The Good Reverend as an authoritative news source because it's your only contact with the outside world. For that reason, I must disclose that I've uncovered something that suggests that I've told you all something . . . erroneous.

Done gasping? Okay, I blogged about the Tasmanian Tiger last February, citing news sources that told of a recent photo of the beast, thought extinct for decades. One such story said this:

Tasmanian wildlife biologist Nick Mooney, who has examined blurry images of what is claimed to be a tasmanian tiger, fears the photo may never be seen in the state again.

Mr Mooney was shown the photos by a Victorian man, who flew to Hobart last week in an attempt to verify the images taken by his German brother.


Link. The story also featured a picture of the marsupial, which I ripped off and posted. The original caption? "Tiger photo disputed." Yet even at the time there seemed something fishy about the picture. The photographer clearly got really close to the supposedly wild animal. The background seemed to include some sort of fence, even though the tiger was claimed to have been spotted in the wild. And strangest of all, the story talks about how the picture has gone missing from Tasmania, how the biologist "fears [it] may never been seen in the state again," and yet there it is, a copy of it anyway, on some plain old major news website.

It's pretty clear now that there was indeed something wrong with the picture. I'm convinced that either (a) it's a hoax and the picture isn't what its owners claim it to be, or (b) the guys at the Australian ABC News website screwed up and wrote the wrong caption for the picture. I think it's probably the latter. Why do I doubt the picture's authenticity? Because it's pretty obviously a still from the famous 1933 Hobart Zoo video discussed at One Plus One Equals Three. That would explain the closeness of the photographer to her subject and the fence in the background. Plus it looks exactly the same. This leaves me with my two possible explanations, and of them I'm inclined to think it was a news website screwup, because that's the only explanation that accounts for the discrepancy between the story and the presense of the picture.

If that picture is wrong because somebody at the website screwed up, it means that there is still a chance that the real picture, which purportedly provides evidence of a living thylacine, is still out there somewhere.

Well, next time I get something like this wrong, I'll eat crow. Preferably one of the crows causing the German toads to explode.

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