Emmerichs thylacine - backstory

The following note was added to the original publication of this article:

As at 2 September 2006, I feel this analysis has gone as far as it reasonably can given the quality of the images being worked with.

Bear in mind that the images used here are scans of newspaper print of modified versions of the originals.

Mr Emmerichs has been in communication with me and is forwarding higher quality hard copies of the photographs (but not the originals).

Once the higher resolution images are received, I will assess whether I can take this analysis further.

The photographs

In February 2005, Klaus Emmerichs and Birgit Jansen allegedly captured a thylacine, or Tasmanian tiger in two digital photographs. The couple was touring Tasmania from Germany via a stop in Melbourne where Mr Emmerichs' brother lives.

The couple claim they did not know the animal was extinct, took two photos, then the animal walked away. Later they realised they'd photographed an animal which hasn't been confirmed alive since 1936.

However, the couple had shortly to return to Germany, via Melbourne. In Melbourne they gave copies of the photographs to Mr Emmerichs' brother and allowed him to decide what to do with the images.

The brother flew back to Tasmania where several experts examined the images and agreed they depicted portions of a thylacine otherwise obscured by foliage. They were clear, however, that they could make no comment on the authenticity of the images unless they could be left for forensic investigation. However, the brother took the images back to Melbourne and began contacting media agencies regarding sale of the images.

Over time, the story drifted out of media attention, the images were apparently never published, and things went quiet.

"Stand by their claim"

In April 2006, the story came back into the media limelight when Klaus Emmerichs and Birgit Jansen returned to Tasmania, this time armed with a video camera and determination to prove their original sighting was no hoax.

The photos were supplied to the Sunday Tasmanian (newspaper) without charge, and published. The photographers took the opportunity to make some clarifications regarding their mysterious disappearance back to Germany after the sighting. It was never their intent to profit from the images, although now that they have been published in Tasmania, they are requesting a $1000 fee for publishing interstate.

In addition, the couple responded to several lines of questioning targeted at the image.

Photographers allege the blurring is not consistent with auto focus problems. Mr Emmerichs explains that a night-vision mode was set which increases exposure time, resulting in blurring.

Photos on the camera taken in January have the text 'JAN' to represent the month in their date stamp. However photographs taken in February, including the thylacine images, use the numeral '02' to represent the month. Mr Emmerichs explained that Brigit attempted to alter the camera's clock from German time to Australian time during the flight to Tasmania, also resulting in the different date stamp format.

It has been alleged the photos resemble a famous photo from the 1930s and to date that allegation has not received a response.

So what are we left with?

This is where it gets interesting.

The photos are were available for viewing at the popular cryptozoology website, Cryptomundo. Be sure to click on them to view enlargements.

In typical commentary fashion, much debate has commenced on the merit of the photos, including many passionate comments contributed by this author.

The theme for this blog - Where Light Meets Dark - has today been switched to take a good analytical look at these photographs and to make attempts at ascertaining the viability of the photographs being genuine.

Unfortunately, it is 4.24am and I really must sleep, but stay tuned for discussion on the facts and allegations as we have them.

Despite claims that scans of newspaper clippings of digital photos are so degraded as to be worthless, I feel quite to the contrary. One crucial ingredient is the fact that we have two photos, and that gives us plenty to work with...


The Mercury News, 16/4/2006, "Picture pair insists their tiger's no fake", accessed 8/7/2006

Cryptomundo, 27/7/2006, "Cryptomundo Exclusive: Thylacine Photos", accessed 29/7/2006