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Emmerichs Thylacine Archive
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Emmerichs Thylacine

In February 2005, German tourists Klaus Emmerichs and Birgit Jansen claimed to have taken two photographs of a living thylacine in the wild in Tasmania. Their story was announced in the media but the photographs were not published until April 2006.

Where Light Meets Dark undertook an analysis on the images, comparing the relative position of visual elements between shots.

In May 2007, Where Light Meets Dark met with Klaus and Birgit and was able to view the photographs first-hand.


A short summary of the backstory.

First comparison

A first look at the Emmerichs photographs notes very slight differences in the animal's posture between shots.

1930s Fleay photograph overlay by Alton Higgins

Alton Higgins of Mid America Christian University used differing levels of opacity to overlay Fleay's 1930s photograph with the Emmerichs thylacine. The result was a nearly perfect match.

Another Fleay comparison, by WLMD

More detailed study of the relative tonalities surrounding various features of the animal's fur patterns supports the view that the Emmerichs thylacine is nearly identical to the 1930s Fleay photograph. It is noted that the earlier examination (link above) contradicts these latest findings as it appears the animal's leg is in a slightly different position in each Emmerichs photograph.

Can the Emmerichs photo be dismissed as a copy of Fleay's based on stripe pattern?

The Fleay overlays created by Alton Higgins (link above) were designed to show that the Emmerichs photos do contain a thylacine. (Many couldn't distinguish it from the foliage).

Instead, they showed a nearly perfect match and many felt they proved Emmerichs' thylacine to be a hoax. This argument is strengthened by Robert Paddle's research on thylacine stripes which shows that individuals had remarkable variability in striping patterns.

In this article, Higgins performs another analysis comparing stripe spacing along the spines of a number of thylacines in photographs. The conclusion is that along the dorsal surface, most thylacines display a similar number of similarly spaced stripes. Paddle's research referred to the end of the stripes and not explicitly the spinal region.

Although the evidence of a hoax appears strong, it is is not conclusive and the Emmerichs photographs cannot be dismissed on the basis of the Fleay overlays alone.

Geometric analysis explained

This article demonstrates the logic behind the geometric analysis that was conducted by Where Light Meets Dark.

Because Mr Emmerichs physically moved between taking the two photographs, the elements in each photograph change relative position. The distance of movement is inversely proportional to the distance from the camera. As a result, the geometric properties can be used to model the layering order of elements in the photographs.

Summary of the analysis

A summary of the analysis to date at that point. It includes conclusions that the scene is consistent between shots and that the photographs are of a real three dimensional scene (and not digital constructions) (amongst other conclusions).

This author's experience photographing cryptids in the wild

Whilst I was photographing fungi in an urban bush park of 45 hectares, a swamp wallaby made an appearance. This sighting was most unexpected for the area. It took me 10 minutes in a very confined space to secure "evidentiary" photographs which turned out to be of very poor quality.

I used the experience to make a comparison with the quality of Klaus Emmerichs' thylacine photographs.

Second summary

A second short summary of the analysis to that point.

2007 Expedition to coincide with Emmerichs thylacine anniversary

I had begun plans for a trip to Tasmania to search for the thylacine on the anniversary of Emmerichs' sighting. The choice of date was based on Paddle's evidence that thylacines may have been migratory.

To that point I did not know the exact location of Emmerichs' thylacine and as my attempts to secure funding for the trip failed, the expedition did not proceed.

Further thoughts

A clarification of the copyright on the photos and a summary of my reasons at that time for believing the Emmerichs photos to likely be genuine.

Seeing the photographs first hand

In 2007 I personally met Klaus Emmerichs and Birgit Jansen and had the opportunity to view their photographs first hand, albeit on the screen of their camera only.

In addition they shared many other travel photographs, videos and stories.

This article summarises the meeting and includes a photograph of Klaus and Birgit with the original Ricoh Caplio camera containing the thylacine images.

Links to related information...

Topic Area - Thylacine
Topic Area - Thylacine
Topic Area - Thylacine
Topic Area - Thylacine
Topic Area - Thylacine

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