Daily TWiP ArchivesSomething interesting has happened on (just about) every day of the year, and Daily TWiP provides the proof. An offshoot of my local events column The Week in Preview (affectionately known as TWiP), Daily TWiP was published April 2008-Aug. 2011 and is still giving readers reasons to celebrate.
More in "Daily TWiP"
- Daily TWiP - Oct. 23: National Mole Day
- Daily TWiP - June 18: International Picnic Day
- Daily TWiP - June 30, 1859: The Great Blondin crosses Niagara Falls on a tightrope
- Daily TWiP - Dec. 1, 1761: Famed wax sculptor Madame Tussaud born
- Daily TWiP - Dec. 4: National Cookie Day
- Daily TWiP - Oct. 8: National Fluffernutter Day
- Daily TWiP - Sept. 7, 1936: "Benjamin," the last thylacine, dies
- Daily TWiP - Nov. 12, 1933: First photograph of the Loch Ness Monster taken
- Daily TWiP - April 1, 1957: The BBC pulls off its infamous spaghetti tree hoax
- Daily TWiP - April 11, 1954: The most boring day of the 20th century
- Daily TWiP - May 3, 1978: The first spam email is sent
- Daily TWiP - Feb. 28, 1939: The non-word “dord” is discovered in Webster’s New International Dictionary
- Daily TWiP - March 3, 1931: "The Star-Spangled Banner," set to the tune of an English drinking song, becomes the U.S. national anthem
- Daily TWiP - May 16, 1777: The American with the most valuable autograph is fatally wounded in a duel
- Daily TWiP - May 25: Towel Day and Geek Pride Day
- Daily TWiP - June 30: National Ice Cream Soda Day
- Daily TWiP - July 22: Spoonerism Day
- Daily TWiP - Aug. 13: International Left-Handers' Day
- Daily TWiP - Aug. 23, 1784: The short-lived state of Franklin declares its independence from North Carolina
- Daily TWiP - Feb. 5, 1897: The Indiana General Assembly unanimously votes to change the value of pi
- Daily TWiP - March 10: International Day of Awesomeness and Chuck Norris' birthday
- Daily TWiP - Jan. 25: National Irish Coffee Day
- Daily TWiP - Nov. 30, 1954: Ann Hodges becomes the first person hit by a meteorite
- Daily TWiP - Oct. 6, 1582 does not happen in certain countries
- Daily TWiP - Sept. 17, 1859: Joshua A. Norton declares himself Emperor of the United States
- Daily TWiP - Sept. 30, 2004: First images of a live giant squid in its natural habitat are taken
- Daily TWiP - Aug. 27, 1896: The shortest war in recorded history is fought
- Daily TWiP - July 30, 1419: Czechs chuck politicians (literally) during the First Defenestration of Prague
- Daily TWiP - July 21, 356 B.C.: Herostratus destroys one of the Seven Wonders of the World to ensure his own fame
- Daily TWiP - May 14: National Dance Like A Chicken Day
- Daily TWiP - Jan. 26, 2004: Dead whale unexpectedly explodes in Tainan, Taiwan
- Daily TWiP - Jan. 8, 1835: U.S. national debt hits zero for the first and only time
Daily TWiP – Sept. 7, 1936: “Benjamin,” the last thylacine, dies
The word “thylacine” conjures up images of a sleekly-named antibiotic, but it’s actually a now-extinct carnivorous marsupial. “Benjamin,” the last of the thylacines (commonly known as the Tasmanian tiger) died in captivity at the Hobart Zoo in Tasmania on Sept. 7, 1936.
The thylacine looked like a large dog with a stiff, thin tail that sloped down and away from its body in a similar fashion to the tail of a kangaroo. Its coat was short and yellow-brown in color with several dark stripes running across its back, rear, and the base of its tail. These stripes faded as the thylacine aged.
The thylacine had a long snout and extremely flexible jaws. Photographs show that it could open its mouth as wide as 120 degrees, a definite advantage when you’re a carnivore.
Both male and female thylacines had pouches. The female’s pouch was on her belly, where it protected four teats. With most marsupials, the pouch opens toward the front of the animal’s body. In the case of the thylacine, it opened toward the rear.
The male’s pouch, known as a scrotal pouch, was located a little further back on his body than was the female’s pouch, and served to protect his scrotal sac. Now that the thylacine is extinct, the South American water opossum is the only member of the marsupial family where the male also has a pouch.
It is partially because of this scrotal pouch that we use quotes around the name given to the last thylacine in captivity. None of the photographs of this particular creature show a scrotal sac, so it’s possible that “Benjamin” may have been a female. Because the scrotal sac could just have been concealed within the pouch, however, scientists may never be completely certain.
The other reason for the quotes around “Benjamin” is that this wasn’t really the thylacine’s name. The name first appears in a newspaper article in 1968, in which a former zoo employee named Frank Darby claimed the thylacine was affectionately referred to as Benjamin.
Unfortunately, when the reporter followed up with the zoo, it turned out that they had never had an employee by the name of Frank Darby, nor had the thylacine ever been referred to as Benjamin. For better or for worse, however, the name has stuck.
Adding to “Benjamin’s” mystery are the sad circumstances under which she/he died. The animal had somehow been locked out of its sleeping shelter during an extreme bout of Tasmanian weather. It simply couldn’t handle the combination of blasting heat during the day and freezing temperatures at night. Had it been able to get into its sleeping shelter, “Benjamin” may have lived a few years more.
Both the thylacine and the Hobart Zoo are now long gone, but you can still see this amazing creature in action. Visit www.naturalworlds.org to see all of the existing motion picture footage of the thylacine.
– Teresa Santoski
Originally published Sept. 7, 2010.