Emmerichs thylacine - Fleay comparison by WLMD

Interlude Continues (... about that spot) (part 4)

In my last post, we took a look at the 1933 image used by Alton Higgins in his overlay series at Cryptomundo (since removed).

There was one peculiar element - a dark patch on the hind leg of the animal, visible in Mr Emmerichs' 2005 photograph, but absent in the 1933 photograph. At the time I speculated that by adjusting the contrast on the 1933 image, it might be possible that that dark patch would become visible.

In Figure 06 below, I've done just that.

Before we get to it, bear in mind that the 1933 photo may not be exactly to the same scale as the 2005 photo.

Figure 06 - Comparison with David Fleay's photograph.

The bottom image (yellow background numbers) is the 2005 photograph by Mr Emmerichs. The centre image (green background numbers) is the 1933 image used in the overlay series. The top image (pink background numbers) is the 1933 image with adjustments made to contrast and brightness.

All illustration elements (arrows, numbers, etc) are identical in size and relative position between the three images. They were aligned using the arrow labelled "1" (described below).

The arrow labelled "1" shows the point at which the curve of the hind leg joins the curve of the tail base. This was used as a reference point to align all the other illustration elements.

The arrow labelled "2" indicates the dark patch found in the 2005 photo, but not in the 1933 photo as presented in the overlay series. By adjusting the contrast and brightness of the 1933 image, a similar patch of dark colouration can be detected in the 1933 image. The alignment is not identical, which may be due to the 1933 image being not necessarily to the same scale as the 2005 image.

The arc labelled "3" runs along the top edge of a similar dark patch found in the 2005 image. The bottom edge of this dark patch was ignored as it is likely obscured by the green leaf directly under the "3" label in the bottom image. Although there is a similarly shaped arc visible in the high contrast (top) version of the 1933 image, it is displaced significantly to the left.

The leaves labelled "4" and "5" were traced and filled with 40% opacity, white colour. These were imposed on all images to give a better indication of which areas of the thylacine would be obscured by the leaves. By examining those areas of the 1933 image which are not obscured, and comparing them with the 2005 image, the similarities in striping are emphasised.

The arrows labelled "6" indicate a pale, greenish patch on the 2005 image. During production a similarly shaped pale patch of fur was observed at the top of the foreleg in the 1933 image. The arrows were placed in order to compare the relative positioning of these patches with respect to the other elements examined in this analysis. Although the 1933 patch is similarly shaped, it is displaced significantly lower and slightly to the right when compared to the 2005 image.

This analysis shows that a similar dark patch exists in the 1933 image on the thylacine's hind leg, although the contrast in the 2005 image is greater.

In addition, two other features seem to appear in both images, although in this comparison they are not exactly aligned. If the 2005 image is indeed a digitally modified version of the 1933 print, then the poor alignment may be explained (in the case of label "3") by utilisation of a different sequence of adjustments to contrast and brightness, combined with a slightly different magnification.

The poor alignment in the case of label "6" may be due to a greenish patch (in the 2005 image) being superimposed on the original image and largely (although not entirely) obscuring the pale patch at the top of the foreleg.

This scenario is supported by the two arrows at point "2" in Figure 05 (see earlier post) which correlate to similar patches in the 1933 image. The dark fur between those two light patches in the 1933 image is not visible in the 2005 image due to the green leaf colouration.

The tonality of the leaf colouration at this point is consistent with the leaf labelled "5" in Figure 06 (this image. The colouration can better be seen in Figure 05) and it is also consistent with the greenish patch in question. In particular, the tonality is different to the tonality of the lighter markings between stripes as they appear next to that leaf in Figure 05, and also the two paler patches on the shoulder. Lastly, the shoulder patches do match the pale markings between stripes.

Although the observations presented in these two posts appear to present a strong case that the 2005 image is a modification of the 1933 print which is held by the Archives Office of Tasmania, there are contradicting observations which challange such a conclusion.

In particular, the initial analysis at Where Light Meets Dark observed a change in relative position of the tail between the 2005 photos. This needs to be further investigated and ideally the second 2005 image needs to be compared with the 1933 print. Finally, as noted earlier, the changes in leaf positioning may be able to be used to construct a model of the scene depicted in the photos. Using this model, a conclusion may be drawn about whether the animal moved between photos. If the 2005 images are digital modifications, then the process of creating a model of the scene may itself yield conclusions about the consistency of the images.

Stay tuned...

Copyright notice

The Emmerichs photographs, and derivative works, were removed from the former version of this website (at www.wherelightmeetsdark.com) in 2006 on request of Klaus Emmerichs. They were republished on 12 June 2019 under the defence of Fair Dealing under Australian copyright law. The original images and their elements as incorporated in derivative works are presented as they were published in the print version of Tasmanian newspaper, the Sunday Tasmanian in 2006. An attempt was made to contact Mr Emmerichs on 17 Mar 2017 ahead of the re-publication of these images but he could not be reached. For full details on how WLMD respects and supports copyright, please refer to the Terms and conditions of use. This note added 12 June 2019.


12 June 2019 - Republish image, minor caption changes and copyright notice.