Studies show that the skull shape of the red fox, Vulpes vulpes, is even closer to that of the thylacine.The modern thylacine first appeared about 4 million years ago.The thylacine was an apex predator, like the tigers and wolves of the Northern Hemisphere from which it obtained two of its common names.
To resolve the mixture of Greek and Latin nomenclature, the species name was altered to cynocephalus.
In 1824, it was separated out into its own genus, Thylacinus, by Temminck.
By the time the first European explorers arrived, the animal was already extinct in mainland Australia and rare in Tasmania.
Europeans may have encountered it as far back as 1642 when Abel Tasman first arrived in Tasmania.
The male thylacine had a pouch that acted as a protective sheath, covering his external reproductive organs while he ran through thick brush.
The thylacine has been described as a formidable predator because of its ability to survive and hunt prey in extremely sparsely populated areas.
The easiest way to tell the difference is by the two prominent holes in the palate bone, which are characteristic of marsupials generally.
Petroglyph images of the thylacine can be found at the Dampier Rock Art Precinct on the Burrup Peninsula in Western Australia.
Despite its official classification as extinct, sightings are still reported, though none have been conclusively proven.
The skulls of the thylacine (left) and the timber wolf, Canis lupus, are quite similar, although the species are only distantly related.
Harris originally placed the thylacine in the genus Didelphis, which had been created by Linnaeus for the American opossums, describing it as Didelphis cynocephala, the "dog-headed opossum".