Dromaius novaehollandiae diemenensis Le Souëf, 1907:13

Tasmanian emu



Taxonomy & Nomenclature

Synonym/s: Dromaeius diemenensis Le Souëf, 1907:13; Dromaeius diemenensis Le Souëf, 1904a,b; Dromaius diemenianus Le Souëf, 1907:13


The taxonomic status of the extinct emus from Flinders Island is not certain (McCarthy, 1965; Serventy, 1967?; Hume & Walters, 2012:23). Julian Hume et al. searched Flinders Island for subfossil material, but did not find any (Hume, 2017; Hume et al., 2017).


Conservation Status


Last record: 1830's (Dooley, 2017); 1839 or later; 1865?; 1870 (Basset Hull, 1944); 1873 (Le Souëf, 1904b:230)



Tasmania, Australia


Biology & Ecology




Aboriginal Song sung by the Women in chorus, by various Tribes of the Natives of Van Diemen's Land.


Nīkkĕh nīngĕh tībrĕh nīckĕh    mōllŷgă pōllŷlă...

The married woman     hunts     the kangaroo and wallaby. . .

Nāmă rykēnnĕh trĕhgānā...

The emu runs in the forest...

Nābĕh thīnnīnnĕh trĕhgānă.

The boomer (kangaroo) runs in the forest.

Nĕhnānĕh kĕhgrēnnă... nynābythĭnnĕh...

    The young emu...          the little kangaroo...

          trīngĕh gūggĕrră...            pȳāthĭnnĕh...

the little joey (sucking kangaroo)... the bandicoot...

nŷnābŷthīnnĕh-kōōbrŷnĕh... mārĕh tĕrrēnnĕh...

the little kangaroo-rat...       the white kangaroo-rat...

pŷāthĭnnĕh pŭngōōthīnnĕh... lŏŏkōōthīnnĕh...

    the little opossum...           the ringtailed opossum...

   mytōppynĕh... trŷnōōnĕh...

the big opossum...    the tiger-cat...

   wāthĕrrūngĭnnă... mārĕh būnnă..

the dog-faced opossum... the black cat.




"Ronald Campbell Gunn also collected animals for the British Museum, including the now extinct Tasmanian emu." (p.181)

(source: Webb, Joan. (2003). The Botanical Endeavour: Journey Towards a Flora of Australia. Chipping Norton, NSW: Surrey Betty & Sons. 289 pp.)


An intact egg with a chick inside is in private hands in Tasmania (Anonymous, pers. comm. 16 November 2016).



Above: A watercolour by William Porden Kay depicts emus at Stanley during the 1840s. Source: Wikimedia Commons.


Above: colour plate by J. G. Keulemans, published in (Mathews, 1910-1911:pl.2).



Original scientific description:

Le Souëf, William Henry Dudley (1907). [Description of Dromaius novaehollandiae diemenensis]. Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club 21: 13.


Other references:

Anderson, Stewart. (1978). Charles Browne Hardwicke: an early Tasmanian pioneer. Surrey Hills, NSW: Wentworth Press.

Anonymous. (1803). Ship News. The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser, Sunday, 16 October, p. 4.

Anonymous. (1804). Ship News. The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser, Sunday, 26 August, p. 3.

Anonymous. (1832). [Untitled]. The Hobart Town Courier, Friday, 10 August, p. 4.

Anonymous. (1834). Miscellaneous news. The Hobart Town Courier, Friday, 11 July, p. 4 |3|.

Anonymous. (1837). Game Preservation. Colonial Times, Tuesday, 6 June, p. 5.

Anonymous. (1919). A Tasmanian Sanctuary. The Sydney Mail, Wednesday, 2 April, p. 12. [last emu early 1830's]

Anonymous. (1924). The Tasmanian Emu. Sydney Mail, Wednesday, 2 January, p. 34.

Backhouse, James. (1837). Extracts from the Letters of James Backhouse. London: Harvey and Darton.

Basset Hull, A. F. (1944). Exterminating the emu. The Sydney Morning Herald, Wednesday, 17 May, p. 2 |4|.

Boles, Walter E. (1992). Revision of Dromaius gidju Patterson & Rich 1987 from Riversleigh, northwest Queensland, Australia, with a reassessment of its generic position. Contributions to the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History 36: 195-208.

Boyce, (Peter) James. (2004). A Dog's Breakfast... Lunch and Dinner: Canine Dependency in Early Van Diemen's Land." THRA Papers and Proceedings 51(4): 194-214.

Boyce, (Peter) James. (2006a). Canine Revolution: The Social and Environmental Impact of the Introduction of the Dog to Tasmania. Environmental History 11(1): 102-139.

Boyce, (Peter) James. (2006b). An environmental history of British settlement in Van Diemen's Land: The making of a distinct people, 1798-1831. Doctoral dissertation, University of Tasmania.

Boyce, (Peter) James. (2008a). Return to Eden: Van Diemen's Land and the early British settlement of Australia. Environment and History 14(2): 289-307.

Boyce, (Peter) James. (2008b). The lost Tasmanian emu - can we bring it home? 40 [degrees] South 51: 14-16.

Brown, S. (1993). Mannalargenna Cave: a Pleistocene site in Bass Strait. In M. A. Smith, M. Spriggs, ([___])#38; B. Fankhauser (Eds.), Sahul in preparation: Pleistocene Archaeology in Australia, New Guinea, and Island Melanesia (pp. 258–271). Department of Prehistory, Research School of Pacific Studies, Australian National University.

Bryant, Sally L. and Jackson, J. (1999). Tasmania's Threatened Fauna Handbook: What, Where and How to Protect Tasmania's Threatened Animals. Threatened Species Unit, DPIWE, Hobart. [p. 213-214]

Burns, T. E. and Skemp, J. R. (1961). Van Diemen's Land correspondents. Queen Victoria Museum.

Calder, James Erskine. (1874). Some Account of the Wars of Extirpation, and Habits of the Native Tribes of Tasmania. Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland 3: 7-28.

Campbell, A. J. (1900). Nests and eggs of Australian birds. Sheffield: Pawson & Brailsford.

Clark, Julia. (1983). The Aboriginal People of Tasmania. Hobart, Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery.

Condon, H. T. (1967). Kangaroo Island and its vertebrate land fauna. Australian Natural History 15(12): 409-412.

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Cosgrove, Richard. (1999). Forty-Two Degrees South: The Archaeology of Late Pleistocene Tasmania. Journal of World Prehistory 13(4): 357-402. [table VII, p. 384]

Cosgrove, Richard, Allen, Jim and Marshall Brendan. (1990). Palaeo-ecology and Pleistocene human occupation in south central Tasmania. Antiquity 64(242): 59-78.

Cosgrove, Richard and Allen, Jim. (2001). Prey Choice and Hunting Strategies in the Late Pleistocene: Evidence from Southwest Tasmania, pp. 397-430. In: Anderson, A., O'Connor, S. and Lilley, I. (eds.). Histories of Old Ages: Essays in Honour of Rhys Jones. Canberra: Coombs Academic Publishing.

Derham, Tristan et al. (2023). Extinction of the Tasmanian emu and opportunities for rewilding. Global Ecology and Conservation 41: e02358.

Dickison, Dudley John. (1925). When did the Tasmanian Emu Become Extinct? Emu 25(3): 213.

Dooley, Robert. (2017). From 'abundance of emues' to a rare bird in the land: The extinction of the Tasmanian emu. Papers and Proceedings: Tasmanian Historical Research Association 64(3): 4-17. [Abstract]

Dove, Hamilton Stuart. (1924). Notes on the Tasmanian Emu. Emu 23(3): 221-222.

Dove, Hamilton Stuart. (1925a). How Tasmania Lost the Emu. Emu 25(3): 213.

Dove, Hamilton Stuart. (1925b). The Tasmanian Emu. Emu 25(4): 290-291.

Dove, Hamilton Stuart. (1936). The Tasmanian Emu. Advocate, Monday, 31 August, p. 9 |5|. [two Tasmanian emus at Major Gray's homestead at Cullenswood c. 1876]

Eberhard, Rolan S. (2020). Tasmanian emu (Dromaius novaehollandiae diemenensis) at the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, Launceston: description, provenance, age. Record of the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery 120: i-vi, 1-46.

Ewing, T. J. (1855). List of the Birds of Tasmania. Royal Society of Tasmania papers and proceedings 3: 142-155.

Frith, H. J. (1979). Wildlife Conservation, revised edition. Angus & Robertson. xiv + 416 pp. [p. 56, p. 295, p. 307 (species account)]

Garnett, Stephen (ed.). (1992). Threatened and Extinct Birds of Australia. RAOU Report Number 82. 212 pp.

Garnett, S. T. and Crowley, G. M. (2000). The Action Plan for Australian Birds 2000. Canberra, ACT: Environment Australia & Birds Australia.

Garvey, Jillian M. (2006). Preliminary zooarchaeological interpretations from Kutikina Cave, south-west Tasmania. Australian Aboriginal Studies 2006(1): 57-62.

Garvey, J. (2007). The wallaby hunters of ice age Tasmania: Australasian Science 28: 30-33.

Giglioli, H. H. (1907). On the extinct emu of the small islands off the south coast of Australia and probably Tasmania. Nature 75: 534.

Gill, E. D. and Banks, M. R. (1956). Cainozoic history of Mowbray Swamp and other areas of north-western Tasmania. Rec. Queen. Vic. Mus. 6: 1-42.

Government Order 15 September 1807, Collins, David, General and Garrison Orders 1803 -1808, ML AK 341.

Green, R. H. (1989). Birds of Tasmania. Launceston: Potoroo Publishing.

James C. Greenway, Jr. (1967). Extinct and vanishing birds of the world, second edition. Dover Publications, Inc., New York.

Gunn, R. (1852). [Letter to the editor]. Papers and Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania 2(1): 168-170.

Hamilton-Arnold, Barbara (ed.). (1994). Letters and Papers of G. P. Harris, 1803-1812: Deputy Surveyor-General of New South Wales at Sullivan Bay, Port Phillip, and Hobart Town, Van Diemen's Land. Sorrento, Victoria: Arden Press.

Hiatt, B. (1967). The food quest and the economy of the Tasmanian Aborigines. Oceania 38(2): 99-133.

Hocking GJ, Driessen MM (1996) Mammals of northeast Tasmania. Records of the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery 103: 163–168. [relevant citation?]

Hume, Julian Pender. (2017). In search of the dwarf emu: extinct emus of Australian islands. Talk to be presented on Monday 13 March to the British Ornithologists' Club. [Abstract]

Hume, Julian Pender and Robertson, Christian. (2021). Eggs of extinct dwarf island emus retained large size. Biol. Lett. 17: 20210012.

Hume, Julian Pender, Steel, Lorna, Middleton, Gregory and Medlock, Kathryn. (2017). In search of the dwarf emu: A palaeontological survey of King and Flinders Islands, Bass Strait, Australia. Contribuciones del Museo Argentino de Ciencias Naturales "Bernardino Rivadavia" 7: 81-98.

Hume, Julian Pender and Walters, Michael. (2012). Extinct Birds. London: T & AD Poyser.

H. V. E. (1928). The Tasmanian Emu. The Sydney Mail, Wednesday, 30 May, p. 19.

Knox, Alan G. and Walters, Michael P. (1994). Extinct and endangered birds in the collections of The Natural History Museum. British Ornithologists' Club Occasional Publications 1: 1-292.

Legge, William Vincent. (1906*). The emus of Tasmania and King Island. Emu 6(3): 116-119.

Le Souëf, D. (1904a). Collection of Australian birds' eggs and nests in the possession of D. Le Souef, Director, Zoological Gardens, Melbourne. Melbourne.

Le Souëf, D. (1904b). Extinct Tasmanian Emu. Emu 3(4): 229-231.

Lhotsky. (1836). Tasmanian sketches. No. 11. Geographical and on Natural History. The Hobart Town Courier, Friday, 28 October, p. 4.

Macdonald, J. D. (1961). Specimens of extinct Tasmanian Emu. Emu 61(4): 333.

Marchant, S. and Higgins, P. J. (eds.). (1990). The Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds. Melbourne: Oxford University Press.

Mathews, Gregory. (1910-1911). The Birds of Australia, volume 1. London: Witherby & Co.

Matthews, Thomas J. et al. (2022). Threatened and extinct island endemic birds of the world: Distribution, threats and functional diversity. Journal of Biogeography.

McCarthy, F. D. (1965). The Emu and the Aborigines. Australian Natural History 15: 16-21.

McCarthy, F. D. (1969). Investigation of Mt Cameron West Rock Engraving Site, Tasmania. Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies Newsletter 1969: 2, 4-6.

Milligan, Joseph. (1859). Vocabulary of dialects of the Aboriginal tribes of Tasmania. Papers and Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania 3: 239-274. [p. 246 'Emu (bird)']

Milligan, Joseph. (1861). On Tasmania, its character, products, and resources. Journal of the Society for Arts 9(438): 377-390. [p. 388]

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Murray, (1978). Life during the late Pleistocene. In Gee, H., and Fenton, J. (eds.), The southwest book: a Tasmanian wilderness, Australian Conservation Foundation, Melbourne, pp. 98-101.

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Murray, P. and Goede, A. (1977). Pleistocene vertebrate remains from a cave near Montague, N.W. Tasmania. Rec. Queen Vict. Mus. 60: 1-30.

Nicholls, Mary (ed.). (1977). The Diary of the Reverend Robert Knopwood, 1803-1838: First Chaplain of Van Diemen's Land. Hobart: Tasmanian Historical Research Association.

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Plomley, ed., Friendly Mission 288, 425.

Ridpath, M. G. and Moreau, R. E. (1966). The birds of Tasmania: ecology and evolution. Ibis 108(3): 348-393. [Abstract]

Lloyd Robson, A History of Tasmania Vol. 1. Van Diemen's Land from the Earliest Times to 1855 (Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1 983) 56, 69.

Scott, Herbert Hedley. (1923). A note on the King Island Emu (including a note on the Tasmanian Emu). Papers and Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania 1923: 103-107.

Scott, Herbert Hedley. (1931). The extinct Tasmanian emu. Papers and Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania 1931: 108-110.

Serventy, Dominic L. (1967). The Bass Strait Islands. Australian Natural History 15: 401-408. [relevant citation?]

Sims, Peter C. A note on Aboriginal petroglyphs at Devonport, Tasmania. Pap. Proc. R. Soc. Tasmania 1970, 104, 117–118.

Sims, Peter C. Variation in Tasmanian Petroglyps. In Form in Indigenous Art: Schematisation in the Art of Aboriginal Australia and Prehistoric Europe; Ucko, P.J., Ed.; Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies: Canberra, Australia, 1977; pp. 429-438.

Sims, Peter C. (2013). No Reprieve for Tasmanian Rock Art. Arts 2(4): 182-224.

J. R Skemp and T.E Burns, Van Diemen's Land Correspondents 1827-1849: Letters from R.C Gunn, R.W Lawrence, Jorgen Jorgenson and Others to Sir William J Hooker (Launceston, Tas.: Queen Victoria Museum, 1961) v, 59. 

Spencer, W. Baldwin and Kershaw, J. A. (1910). A Collection of Sub-fossil Bird and Marsupial Remains from King Island, Bass Strait. Mem. Nat. Mus. Melbourne 3: 5-35.

Steinbacher, J. (1959). Weitere Angaben über ausgestorbene, aussterbende und seltene Vögel im Senckenberg-Museum. Senckenbergiana Biologica 40: 1-14.

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Thomson, Vicki A., Mitchell, Kieren J., Eberhard, Rolan, Dortch, Joe, Austin, Jeremy J. and Cooper, Alan. (2018). Genetic diversity and drivers of dwarfism in extinct island emu populations. Biology Letters 14(4): 20170617. [Abstract]

Webb, Joan. (2003). The Botanical Endeavour: Journey Towards a Flora of Australia. Chipping Norton, NSW: Surrey Betty & Sons. 289 pp.

Woinarski, John C. Z., Legge, Sarah M. and Garnett, Stephen T. (2024). Extinct Australian birds: numbers, characteristics, lessons and prospects. Emu 124(1): 8-20.

Worthy, Trevor H. and Nguyen, Jacqueline M. T. (2020). An annotated checklist of the fossil birds of Australia. Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia 144(1): 66-108.


* Published in 1907?


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