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The modern Thylacine first appeared about 4 million years ago. Species of the Thylacinidae family da

The modern Thylacine first appeared about 4 million years ago. Species of the Thylacinidae family date back to the beginning of the Miocene; since the early 1990s, at least seven fossil species have been uncovered at Riversleigh, part of Lawn Hill National Park in north-west Queensland.[3][4] Dickson's Thylacine (Nimbacinus dicksoni), is the oldest of the seven discovered fossil species, dating back to 23 million years ago. This thylacinid was much smaller than its more recent relatives.[5] The largest species, the Powerful Thylacine (Thylacinus potens) which grew to the size of a wolf, was the only species to survive into the late Miocene.[6] In late Pleistocene and early Holocene times, the modern Thylacine was widespread (although never numerous) throughout Australia and New Guinea.[7]

Illustration of the Powerful Thylacine, Thylacinus potens, which existed during the Miocene. It is the Thylacine's largest known relative.
Illustration of the Powerful Thylacine, Thylacinus potens, which existed during the Miocene. It is the Thylacine's largest known relative.

The Thylacine showed many similarities to the members of the Canidae (dog) family of the Northern Hemisphere: sharp teeth, powerful jaws, raised heels and the same general body form. This is an example of convergent evolution. Since the Thylacine filled the same ecological niche in Australia as the dog family did elsewhere, it developed many of the same features. Despite this, it is unrelated to any of the Northern Hemisphere predators — its closest living relative is the Tasmanian Devil (Sarcophilus harrisii).[9]
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