Diprotodon optatum Owen, 1838a:362-363, xix
Taxonomy & Nomenclature
Synonyms: Dinotherium australe Owen, 1843; Diprotodon australis Owen, 1844; Diprotodon annextans McCoy, 1861; Diprotodon minor Huxley, 1862; Diprotodon longiceps McCoy, 1865; Diprotodon loderi Krefft, 1873a; Diprotodon bennetti Krefft, 1873b; Diprotodon bennettii Owen, 1877
Last record: 44ka (Johnson et al. 2016)
Biology & Ecology
Diprotodon was the first Australian megafauna species to be described, based upon fossils collected by the explorer Thomas Mitchell in 1830 from the world famous Wellington Caves. By coincidence it is rather fitting that the first is also almost certainly the biggest. The maximum weight of males of the Giant wombat (D. optatum) have been estimated to be 2786kg (Wroe et. al. 2004), which would make it the largest known marsupial to have ever lived. It also appears to have been one of the most recent megafauna extinctions (Johnson et al. 2016), along with Zygomaturus trilobus and perhaps some of the sthenurine kangaroos.
Holotype: BM M10796 (Dawson, 1985:66)
Type locality: "coll. by Mitchell, 1830, in "the large cave"" (Dawson, 1985:66)
NMV P31299 (cranium) (Sharp, 2014)
NMV P151802 (lower mandible) (Sharp, 2014)
NMV P157382 (lower mandible) (Sharp, 2014)
"Diprotodon teeth excavated from Wellington Caves. Australian Museum."
Source: MacLennan, Sally. (2020). At the Museum: Have you even seen a two tonne wombat? Central Western Daily, available from: https://www.centralwesterndaily.com.au/story/6837198/at-the-museum-have-you-even-seen-a-two-tonne-wombat/
A traditional bunyip account is that of an encounter by mineralogist Charles Bailly with an unknown animal bellowing in the reeds up the Swan River, Western Australia, in June 1801. Although (Michell & Rickard, 1982) hypothesise that it might refer to living Diprotodon.
The explorer Hamilton Hume encountered a 'hippopotamus' in Lake Bathurst, New South Wales in 1821, which might refer to a living Giant wombat (Gilroy, 1976; Michell & Rickard, 1982). Michell & Rickard (1982) included this and another possible encounter.
Original scientific description:
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*This quote is taken from: Bednarik, Robert G. (2013). Myths About Rock Art. Journal of Literature and Art Studies 3(8): 482-500.