The Mystery of Bunyip

BunyipWhile the United States have its share of mythical creatures like Bigfoot and Wampus Cat, Australian folklore has been mystified by a creature they call "The Devil."

During the early days of colonization, the Europeans reported sightings of "bunyip," a sort of lake monster.  Aboriginals have various descriptions of the creature: a dog-like face, dark fur, horse-like tail, flippers, and even tusks like those of walruses. 

Back then, the Europeans thought that the bunyip was an actual unknown animal, which at the time was common because they were unfamiliar with the continent’s peculiar fauna.  They associated some unusual "calls" from swamps, creeks, and waterholes, as those coming from bunyips.

In 1846, a peculiar skull was discovered at the banks of Murrumbidgee River in New South Wales.  Several experts at the time concluded that it belonged to something unknown to science, possibly a bunyip.  A year later, the skull was put on public exhibition in the Australian Museum for two days, which prompted visitors to speak out about their own "bunyip sightings."  The present location of this skull is unknown.

As exploration of Australia’s wildlife proceeded, it was slowly becoming apparent that the bunyip did not exist at all, while the mysterious skull was later dismissed as that of a disfigured horse or calf.  The idiom "why search for the bunyip," in reference to repeated attempts by Australian adventurers to capture this elusive creature, indicates that a proposed course of action is fruitless or next to impossible.

Despite the absence of physical evidence about the bunyip’s existence, several experts have theorized that the bunyip could an Aboriginal folk memory of the Diprotodon, described as the largest known marsupial, or other extinct giant animal species in Australia.

Image Source: Australian National Library

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