posted on Jan, 11 2009 @ 01:07 PM
The bunyip (usually translated as "devil" or "spirit") is a mythical creature from Australian folklore. Various accounts and explanations of
bunyips have been given across Australia since the early days of the colonies. It has also been identified as an animal recorded in Aboriginal
mythology, similar to known extinct animals.
Descriptions of bunyips vary widely. It is usually given as a sort of lake monster. Common features in Aboriginal descriptions include a dog-like
face, dark fur, a horse-like tail, flippers, and walrus-like tusks or horns. According to legend, they are said to lurk in swamps, billabongs, creeks,
riverbeds, and waterholes.
During the early settlement of Australia by Europeans, the notion that the bunyip was an actual unknown animal that awaited discovery became common.
Early European settlers, unfamiliar with the sights and sounds of the island continent's peculiar fauna, regarded the bunyip as one more strange
Australian animal and sometimes attributed unfamiliar animal calls or cries to it. At one point, the discovery of a strange skull in an isolated area
associated with these 'bunyip calls' seemed to provide physical evidence of the bunyip's existence.
In 1846, a peculiar skull was taken from the banks of Murrumbidgee River in New South Wales. In the first flush of excitement, several experts
concluded that it was the skull of something unknown to science. In 1847 the so-called bunyip skull was put on exhibition in the Australian Museum
(Sydney) for two days. Visitors flocked to see it and The Sydney Morning Herald said that it prompted many people to speak out about their 'bunyip
sightings'. "Almost everyone became immediately aware that he had heard 'strange sounds' from the lagoons at night, or had seen 'something
black' in the water." It was eventually concluded that it was a 'freak of nature' and not a new species. The 'bunyip skull' disappeared from the
museum soon afterwards, and its present location is unknown.
As European exploration of Australia proceeded, the bunyip increasingly began to be regarded as nonexistent. The mysterious skull was later identified
as that of a disfigured horse or calf. The idiom 'why search for the bunyip?' emerged from repeated attempts by Australian adventurers to capture or
sight the bunyip, the phrase indicating that a proposed course of action is fruitless or impossible.
The Greta Bunyip was a bunyip which was believed to have lived in the swamps of the Greta area, in Victoria, Australia. Locals often heard a loud
booming sound which emitted mysteriously from the swamps, yet none of the frequent search parties were able to locate the source of the sound. Once
the swamps were drained, the sound subsided. Some Greta locals believed that the bunyip moved on to another area, while others believed it had died
once its habitat was gone
Although no documented physical evidence of bunyips has been found, it has been suggested by cryptozoologists that tales of bunyips could be connected
to the Diprotodon, a pre-historic animal.