Emmerichs thylacine - stripe pattern

About those stripes (part 5)

In my last post I took a close look at the image overlays created by Alton Higgins for Cryptomundo.

Privately and publicly, Higgins has stated that the purpose for creating the overlays was to demonstrate that Mr Emmerichs' photos from Februrary 2005 do in fact show a thylacine.

Prior to Higgins' overlays, many couldn't see the thylacine due to the poor quality of the image, which, it has been confirmed, was a scan of a newspaper clipping of intentionally modified versions of digital photographs.

After Higgins' overlays, some still couldn't see the thylacine, but many others felt the overlaid 1933 image correlated far too closely to the 2005 image, leading to speculation that the 2005 images are hoaxes.

Here at Where Light Meets Dark, this author overlaid both the 1933 and the 2005 images with a series of lines and arrows to demonstrate the relative position of various features of each animal. Perhaps most strikingly, the pale fur between stripes seemed to align almost perfectly. This observation was here contrasted with Robert Paddle's observation that between animals, "enormous variability existed between banding patterns, concerning the total number of stripes, how far down the body and thighs they exteded, and whether they were straight or curved, tapering to a single point or ending in a fork." (Paddle, 2000). Although I noted that comparison between Mr Emmerichs' two photos preliminarily indicated that the animal moved its tail between shots, it seemed the case was set against these photos being genuine.

Analysis between the two 2005 photos is still to be carried further, but in the meantime, Alton Higgins brings us a new analysis aimed at squarely answering the question: "Can we dismiss Mr Emmerichs' photos on the basis that the animal's stripes closely resemble those from an animal photographed in the 1930s?"

And it would seem the answer is "No".

The next section describes in Alton's own words, his process for comparison of striping patterns between various photographs of thylacines.

Thylacine Stripe Spacing Consistency

"Recent photos of what appears to be a thylacine were taken in Tasmania by Klaus Emmerichs, a German tourist. I compared the Emmerichs photos to photos of thylacines and observed what appeared to be close matches of striping patterns. I looked at images of thylacines that were available via the Internet. Comparisons of thylacine stripes revealed that they differed in width, length, and possibly darkness. In addition, some stripes were forked. However, the spacing and positioning of thylacine stripes appeared to be quite consistent.

"I compared the stripe spacing patterns exhibited in what appeared to be seven different thylacines. Photos of the pairs of animals matched up are provided on the left side of each comparison. The stripes of the two thylacines were cropped and resized, placed back to back, then aligned. The top animal’s stripes are shown on the left side of the back-to-back alignments. Results of six combinations are shown. In each case, stripe positions were closely aligned.

"One aspect of possible significance regarding stripe pattern consistency pertains to the 2005 Emmerichs photos. Stripes visible in the Emmerichs photos appeared to exhibit a close match to photos of thylacines, leading to speculation that the 2005 photos were hoaxes based on old photos. However, because of thylacine stripe pattern consistency, as illustrated by the comparisons shown here, I do not think the Emmerichs photos should be dismissed out of hand based strictly on the fact that they compare favorably to known photos of thylacines."

Presented below is a composite of the six comparisons made by Alton.

Figure 07 - Analysing thylacine stripe patterns.

Comparison in stripe patterns between different thylacines, a photo analysis

It can be seen from these comparisons of 7 individuals (including the pelt), that whilst variation in striping patterns did exist, their spacing and relative positioning along the spine were significantly consistent between individuals. Bearing in mind that Emmerichs' photos show far less clarity than the images used here (in part by design as they were "distorted ... somewhat to guard against reproduction" when sent to press) (Bailey, 2006), I confer with Higgins that Emmerichs' photos can not be dismissed on the basis that the striping pattern of that thylacine matches (in terms of spacing and relative stripe positioning) any other photographed thylacine.\

How many stripes???

In researching this post, I asked the question - how many stripes have been documented on thylacines? There is no clarity in the answer...

"Across the back 20, on the tail 3" (Campbell undated, quoting Paterson 1805)

"There are 13-19 black vertical stripes that run from the midback to the base of the tail." (Ellis, 2002)

"it has 15 to 20 distinct transverse dark stripes across the back from shoulders to tail." (Dixon, 1989)

"with sixteen to eighteen dark stripes on its back and rump" (Wikipedia, 2006)

"19 to 25 dark brown or black stripes" (Rolland, 1997)

Depending on the reference, a thylacine might have as few as 13, or as many as 25 stripes. These may or may not extend from the back to the tail. Despite these references, most of the patterns shown in Higgins' analysis depict about 17 stripes, although the entirity of the tail is never shown. Given this consistency along the back however, it should be safe to assume that 17 to 19 stripes is the norm, and figures such as 13 would be the exception (or the possibly the norm for much younger animals than those shown here).

In other words, the fact that the thylacine in Emmerichs' photo depicts stripes in the same position, and of the same number, as in the 1933 photo used for Higgins' first analysis does not imply that the 2005 photos are digital manipulations of the 1933 photograph (or any other photograph).

This brings us back to the original intent of this series of articles - can we construct a model of the scene as Emmerichs photographed it, based on the change in position of the leaves between photos? And if so, did the animal change its position between photos?

More to come...

... but before we go, please note that it hasn't yet been ascertained that all the animals in Higgins' analysis (above) are distinct individuals.


Bailey, C. 2006 commenting on "Cryptomundo Exclusive: Thylacine Photos" (On-line), Cryptomundo. Accessed August 02, 2006 at http://www.cryptomundo.com/bigfoot-report/thylacine-photos

Campbell, C. undated "The Scientific Name" (On-line), The Thylacine Museum. Accessed August 02, 2006 at http://www.naturalworlds.org/thylacine/naturalhistory/history/history_1805_1936_1.htm

Dixon, J. M. 1989. "Thylacinidae" (On-line), in Fauna of Australia Volume 1B Mammalia. Accessed August 02, 2006 at http://www.deh.gov.au/biodiversity/abrs/publications/fauna-of-australia/pubs/volume1b/20-ind.pdf

Ellis, E. 2002. "Thylacinus cynocephalus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed August 02, 2006 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Thylacinus_cynocephalus.html

Paddle, R. 2000. "The Last Tasmanian Tiger: The History and Extinction of the Thylacine", Cambridge University Press, p 45.

Rolland, W. 1997 "The Tasmanian Tiger The Elusive Thylacine", Book Agencies of Tasmania, p 7.

Wikipedia, 2006. "Thylacine" (On-line), Wikipedia. Accessed August 02, 2006 at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thylacine


12 June 2019 - Minor image caption changes.