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Caspian Tiger

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caspian tiger

The Caspian Tiger (public domain)

Name:

Caspian Tiger; also known as Panthera tigris virgata

Habitat:

Plains of central Asia

Historical Epoch:

Modern (went extinct 50 years ago)

Size and Weight:

Up to 9 feet long and 500 pounds

Diet:

Meat

Distinguishing Characteristics:

Large size; distinctive stripes

About the Caspian Tiger:

One of three subspecies of Eurasian tiger to go extinct within the last century--the other two are the Bali Tiger and the Javan Tiger--the Caspian Tiger once roamed huge swaths of territory in central Asia, including Iran, Turkey, the Caucasus, and the "-stan" territories bordering Russia (Uzbekhistan, Kazakhstan, etc.). An especially robust member of the Panthera tigris family--the largest males approached 500 pounds--the Caspian Tiger was hunted mercilessly during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, especially by the Russian government, which put a bounty on this beast in a heavy-handed effort to reclaim farmlands bordering the Caspian Sea.

Although it's widely considered to be an extinct species, there have been numerous, unconfirmed sightings of the Caspian Tiger over the past few decades. More encouragingly, genetic analysis has shown that the Caspian Tiger may have diverged from a population of (still extant) Siberian Tigers as little as 100 years ago, and that these two tiger subspecies may have been one and the same. If this turns out to be the case, it may be possible to resurrect the Caspian Tiger by re-introducing the Siberian Tiger to the lands of central Asia, a project that has been announced (but not yet fully implemented) by Russia and Iran, and which falls under the category of de-extinction.

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