The last large marsupial carnivores - the Tasmanian devil (Sarcophilis harrisii) and thylacine (Thylacinus cynocephalus) - went extinct on mainland Australia during the mid-Holocene. Based on the youngest fossil dates (approx. 3500 years before present, BP), these extinctions are often considered synchronous and driven by a common cause. However, many published devil dates have recently been rejected as unreliable, shifting the youngest mainland fossil age to 25 500 years BP and challenging the synchronous-extinction hypothesis. Here we provide 24 and 20 new ages for devils and thylacines, respectively, and collate existing, reliable radiocarbon dates by quality-filtering available records. We use this new dataset to estimate an extinction time for both species by applying the Gaussian-resampled, inverse-weighted McInerney (GRIWM) method. Our new data and analysis definitively support the synchronous-extinction hypothesis, estimating that the mainland devil and thylacine extinctions occurred between 3179 and 3227 years BP.
- AMS dating