The founder of a Facebook group dedicated to uncovering evidence that the Tasmanian Tiger is alive on mainland Australia says he has found the best evidence yet to support his cause.
"It's not a fox," says Neil Waters. "The rear hock goes flat when it steps, indicating it has a foot like a thylacine. Thylacines have the ability to stand on their back feet like a kangaroo. They can lean right back, just like that."
Waters is the founder of the Thylacine Awareness Group, and recently became a prominent figure in the Thylacine truther movement.
He's talking about new footage he has been sent from a woman in South Australia, who filmed what she believes to be a Tasmanian Tiger – also known as a Thylacine – walking across her property in 2008.
He has spent the last few weeks figuring out how to transfer the footage from tape to digital so it can be uploaded to YouTube.
Thylacines have been declared extinct for 30 years after no sightings were reported in the 80 years before that. Humans hunted the predator to extinction in the early 1900s to protect their livestock, but Waters is one of a growing community who believe a mainland thylacine, or a thylacine sub species, still lives among us.
Speaking to BuzzFeed News about his new footage, Waters is adamant.
"It has an incredibly thick neck ... it's got the long, stiff tail that looks like a backbone essentially. There's people coming to me now, these people, they're coming forward because they feel more comfortable. They know that [the Thylacine Awareness Group] is interested. They know we'll take them seriously."
The footage is not without its detractors. The YouTube video, which was uploaded over the weekend, is already filled with commenters claiming the animal is nothing more than a fox with mange, or another marsupial.
But Waters isn't bothered by the criticism.
"When you plug your laptop into a large screen TV, you actually see the stripes running across its back. It has stripes. What animal like that has stripes?"
"Mangy animals tend not to have hair on them – that's what mange is! I don't see any bald patches on that animal, that thylacine, whatsoever."
Waters is also critical of scientific bodies, who he says want physical proof of a thylacine existing but aren't willing to put in the hard work to find it.
"I'll just upload it to YouTube when I get perfect evidence," he says. "I won't give it to scientists."
David Bock, the information coordinator at the Australian Museum, cast doubt on the footage.
"Thylacines were on the mainland some 5,000 years ago and then disappeared, became extinct .... roughly around the time of the introduction of the dingo," he told BuzzFeed News.
"You need a whole population to sustain one animal ... It's like the Loch Ness Monster. You can't have just one. You have to have a mummy and a daddy and a sustainable population."
"There hasn't been any dead animals, but if people have fur or droppings we can do a DNA test. It can be tested, but from that footage there's nothing," he said.
"We'd be happy to look at concrete evidence, but that footage is not good enough yet."
Brad Esposito is a news reporter for BuzzFeed and is based in Sydney, Australia.
Contact Brad Esposito at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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