Evolution and systematics

At least 14 species of Tasmanian wolves from six genera are known from the fossil record, including Thylacinus, the last species (T. cynocephalus), which persisted until historical times. Thylacinids originated in the late Oligocene, reached their greatest diversity, with coexisting species, in the Miocene, and then declined steadily with only two species, including the giant T. potens, living in the Pleistocene. Thylacinids ranged in size from small carnivores (4.4-11 lb; 2-5 kg) to slightly larger than the thylacine (66 lb; 30 kg). Thylacinids are morphologically conservative among the Dasyuromorphia, including T. cynocephalus, which were little derived from the late Oligocene thylacinids, and are most closely related to the dasyurids, although they are convergent with the extinct South American marsupial borhyaenids.

The taxonomy for this species is Thylacinus cynocephalus (Harris, 1808), Tasmania, Australia.

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