Dinotherium australe Owen, 1843a



Taxonomy & Nomenclature

As early as 1832, scientists in America and England reported the remains of a proboscidean among the earliest material to be examined from the Wellington Caves of New South Wales (De La Beche, 1832; Pentland, 1832).


Now considered a subjective synonym of Diprotodon optatum Owen, 1838 (Mahoney & Ride, 1975:20, 86; Camens, 2010).


The famous Victorian-era anatomist Richard Owen erroneously described a species of Australian pachyderm1 (viz. mastodon) based upon fossils of Diprotodon optatum.

1 An historical taxonomic rank now known to be paraphyletic (consisting of elephants, rhinos, hippos etc.). Although the term Pachyderm has been retained as the title of the journal of the African Elephant, African Rhino and Asian Rhino Specialist Groups (viz. IUCN).


Conservation Status

Invalid (synonym of Diprotodon optatum) (Mahoney & Ride, 1975:20, 86; Camens, 2010)





Biology & Ecology




Holotype: BMNH M10796 (Camens, 2010)

Type locality: "Darling Downs [Queensland]" (Mahoney & Ride, 1975:86)






Original scientific description:

Owen, Richard. (1843a). On the discovery of the remains of a mastodontoid pachyderm in Australia. Annals and Magazine of Natural History 11: 7-12.


Other references:

Anonymous [Mitchell, T. L.?]. -Owen Collection-Drawings, folio 443, "plate" b [containing two illustrations of the holotype of Dinotherium australe Owen; the artist is unknown but might be Sir Thomas L. Mitchell]. [cited by (Mahoney & Ride, 1975)]

Camens, Aaron B. (2010). Systematic and palaeobiological implications of postcranial morphology in the Diprotodontidae (Marsupialia). PhD thesis, University of Adelaide. 464 pp.

De La Beche, Henry T. (1832). A Geological Manual. Philadelphia: Carey & Lea. [p. 509]

Huttunen, Kati. (2001). Systematics and Taxonomy of the European Deinotheriidae (Proboscidea, Mammalia). Annalen des Naturhistorischen Museums in Wien. Serie A für Mineralogie und Petrographie, Geologie und Paläontologie, Anthropologie und Prähistorie 103: 237-250. ["Not a proboscidean: 1843 Dinotherium Australe Owen:7" (p. 244)]

Mahoney, J. A. and Ride, W. D. L. (1975). Index to the genera and species of fossil mammalia described from Australia and New Guinea between 1838 and 1968 (including citations of type species and primary type specimens). Western Australian Museum Special Publication 6: 1-250.

Mitchell, T. L. (1842). (draft dated December 20th, 1842, of letter from Mitchell to Owen, Mitchell Library manuscripts A293-Papers of Sir T. L. MitcheIl, vol. 4, 1840-1849 : 285,6. [referenced by (Mahoney & Ride, 1975:86)]

Owen, Richard. (1843b). Additional evidence proving the Australian Pachyderm described in a former number of the ‘Annals’ to be a Dinotherium with remarks on the nature and affinities of that genus. The Annals and Magazine of Natural History 71: 329-332.

Owen, Richard. (1844). Description of a fossil molar tooth of a Mastodon discovered by Count Strzlecki in Australia. Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist. 14: 268-271.

Owen, Richard. (1846a). Mastodontoid pachyderm of Australia. The Tasmanian journal of natural science, agriculture, statistics, &c. 2(7): 151-154.

Owen, Richard. (1846b). Description of a fossil molar tooth of a Mastodon: Discovered by Count Strzlecki in Australia. The Tasmanian journal of natural science, agriculture, statistics, &c. 2(11): 451-455. [pages: 451-452, 453-455]

Pentland, Joseph Barclay. (1832). On the fossil bones of Wellington Valley, New Holland, or New South Wales. The Edinburgh New Philosophical Journal 12: 301-308.


<< Back to the Proboscideans database