Tasmanian Devils are a precious Australian icon that now dwell only on the island of Tasmania. The devils were once wild across mainland Australia, but went extinct around 3000 years ago. But could some of those devils have survived on the mainland? Are there any populations left? Environment Institute researchers searched for answers.
The myth of surviving Tasmanian Devils on mainland Australia have been fortified by discoveries in 1912 and 1991. Three specimens of Tasmanian Devils were recovered in Victoria, perpetuating the belief that devils had survived on the mainland. However, a study by Associate Professor Jeremy Austin and PhD student Lauren White has debunked this myth.
Austin and White looked at the genomes of the three Victorian specimens and discovered that they were similar to devils from Tasmania. This result suggests that the three Victorian specimens were likely stowaways, coming to the mainland from Tasmania. The research was published in The Royal Society Open Science.
This research was featured in the Australian Geographic.