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The thylacine was one of only two marsupials to have a pouch in both sexes (the other being the water opossum).
The male thylacine had a pouch that acted as a protective sheath, covering his external reproductive organs while he ran through thick brush.
Research published in Genome Research in January 2009 suggests the numbat may be more basal than the devil.
The resulting cladogram follows below: Descriptions of the thylacine vary, as evidence is restricted to preserved joey specimens, fossil records, skins and skeletal remains, black and white photographs and film of the animal in captivity, and accounts from the field.
Native to continental Australia, Tasmania and New Guinea, it is believed to have become extinct in the 20th century.
Its closest living relative is thought to be either the Tasmanian devil or the numbat.
The skulls of the thylacine (left) and the timber wolf, Canis lupus, are quite similar, although the species are only distantly related.
Studies show that the skull shape of the red fox, Vulpes vulpes, is even closer to that of the thylacine.
Surviving evidence suggests that it was a relatively shy, nocturnal creature with the general appearance of a medium-to-large-size dog, except for its stiff tail and abdominal pouch (reminiscent of a kangaroo) and dark transverse stripes that radiated from the top of its back, similar to those of a tiger.
The thylacine was an apex predator, like the tigers and wolves of the Northern Hemisphere from which it obtained two of its common names.
Intensive hunting encouraged by bounties is generally blamed for its extinction, but other contributing factors may have been disease, the introduction of dogs, and human encroachment into its habitat.