Monday, September 5, 2016

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The Bunyip is a mythical creature from Australian Folklore.It is said to live in swamps,lakes,waterholes,stagnant blackwater (billabongs) and even wells.It is found in Aboriginal folklore tales and stories.The legend also held that the Bunyip was a aggressive hairy animal with supernatural powers.


There are many different descriptions of what the bunyip looks like. Features that were often reported in newspapers in the early 19th-century included dark fur, a face like a dog, sharp teeth and claws, flippers, tusks or horns, and a duck-like bill.One writer, Robert Brough Smyth, recorded many different descriptions of the bunyip. But he concluded that most people did not really know much about what it looked like or its behaviour, and that they were too afraid of the creature to be able to take note of its appearance. Aboriginal drawings depict a creature with a horse-like tail,flippers and walrus-like tusks or horns.Sometimes the bunyip was enormous, other times the size of a dog.At times it was reported to have a long body and a horse-shaped head.Some researchers believe that bunyip category may have included more than one cryptid.

Traditional Art

In the mid-1800s, an unidentified skull was found along a river bank in New South Wales that seemed to prove the existence of bunyips. Many observers were not convinced, and believed the skull discovery was a hoax. Research was halted because the skull mysteriously disappeared after a few days on exhibit at the Australian Museum in Sydney. Coincidentally, reports of bunyip sightings increased dramatically during this time.

Although legendary bunyip sightings have emanated from throughout Australia, 19th century occurrences centered especially on Lake George and Lake Bathurst. Later reports described the once-carnivorous monster as a harmless grazing herbivore. The first sightings were reported in the early 1800s; the last recorded sighting was in 1890.

The first written account of the Bunyip was in July 1845.A newspaper reported on the finding of some fossils near Geelong. When the bones were shown to an Aboriginal man, he was said to have immediately recognized it as the bunyip. He was asked to draw a picture of the bunyip. The newspaper described it as having a head like an emu and the body and legs of an alligator. Its legs were said to be strong, with thick and short hind legs and long legs in front. It was said to have long claws. When in the water, it was said to swim like a frog, but when on shore it would walk on its hind legs, standing 12 or 13 feet (3.7 or 4.0 m) high.

In January 1846, a weird-looking skull was taken from the banks of Murrumbidgee River in New South Wales. The person who found it said that all the natives it had been shown to had called it a bunyip.The skull was put on display in the Australian Museum in Sydney. Crowds came to see it, and The Sydney Morning Herald wrote that many of the visitors told stories about their "bunyip sightings"

The Skull Displayed in the Australian Museum.
Another early story about the bunyip was written in 1852 by an escaped convict named William Buckley. He wrote that in many of the lakes he had visited, there lived an "amphibious animal, which the natives call Bunyip". He wrote that he only ever saw the back of the animal, which he said was covered in grey feathers. He described it as being the size of a small cow.He claimed the bunyip was believed to have supernatural powers.


Researchers have offered their own possible scientific bases for the bunyip folktales. Depending on the researcher, the bunyip lake monster could be:
  • Related to the doyarchu, also called the “Irish Crocodile,” a known aquatic man-killer 
  • A giant otter 
  • An undiscovered aquatic marsupial 
  • An undiscovered variety of freshwater seal 
  • A Diprotodon, extinct for some 20,000 years, which is known to have terrified early Australian settlers 
  • An Australian Fur Seal, which emits a loud cry similar to the bunyip when it is trapped inland by flooding
  • Based on fossilized animal skeletons that the Indigenous Australians came across, such as of the prehistoric giant kangaroo, the Procoptodon, whose fossils indicate they weighed more than 5.8 kg or 500 pounds. 
  • Scholars have suggested that the story of the bunyip may have been passed down from a time when megafauna still existed in Australia. Comparisons have been made to extinct marsupials like the Diprotodon or Thylacoleo. Other scholars have suggested that people finding the fossilised remains of such animals would identify them as the bunyip.


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