When I was searching for something to use as a base for the Hunters, I wanted an animal that was haunting, strange, and touched by sadness. They’re the only animal in the book that is not and never has been native to the area they’re found–even the Caribbean Monk seal, although extinct, roamed the waters where the Lost show up. Choosing extinct animals had a double impact–it reminds people a real issue, an actual loss to the world; it also carries the tone of loneliness and sadness into the book.
The extinct Tasmanian Tiger (warning, the link shows the last of them in captivity, and it’s sad) was my original mental inspiration for the frightening Hunters, who I see as larger, bigger-fanged, solid-colored thylacines. Since most people won’t know what they are, I ended up describing them as something closer to a very large and muscular greyhound-wildcat mix.
The real thylacines weren’t nearly as large as the Hunters, nor were they as deadly. In fact they’re quite beautiful, but in an unearthly way. I took the too-wide jaws straight from reality.
While thylacines are classified as extinct, there are still occasional unconfirmed reports of them in the wild. We can only hope that one day, these fascinating creatures will make a comeback. And preferably not as actual Hunters!