Mainland Extinction Of The Tasmanian Devil
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Important Note

Since the launch of this website we have been contacted by a number of people with additional information regarding the causes of the mainland extinction of Tasmanian devils.

The information below is out of date and will be updated soon.

In summary, we now believe that:

  • it is unlikely that DFTD played a part in the mainland extinction of the devil, and
  • there is a case to be made that mainland extinction occurred several thousand (and not several hundred) years ago

Former Mainland Distribution of the Tasmanian Devil

The Tasmanian devil was once widely distributed across mainland Australia. The most recent sub-fossil material comes from Western Victoria and is dated to about 600 years before present (1).

Causes of Mainland Extinction


The demise of the species on mainland Australia is attributed to the dingo (Canis lupus dingo) (2).

Devil Facial Tumour Disease?

In 2007, one author (3) questioned whether devil facial tumour disease (DFTD) may have played a part in the mainland extinction (or near-extinction) of Tasmanian devils.

  1. Information on this page regarding dates and distribution of sub-fossil material comes from Application Form: Nomination for Listing or Delisting of a Taxon of Flora or Fauna (Threatened Species Protection Act 1995) as submitted by Nick McKim for recommending the Tasmanian Devil (Sarcophilus harrisii) be listed as Vulnerable
  2. cf Mammals of Tasmania: Tasmanian Devil, Sarcophilus harrisii from the Parks and Wildlife Service Tasmania
  3. Chris Rehberg - an author of this website - posed this question in the book Elementum Bestia, published by lulu press, 2007.

Copyright © 2007 and