Member of The Crypto Crew:

Please Also Visit our Sister Blog, Frontiers of Anthropology:

And the new group for trying out fictional projects (Includes Cryptofiction Projects):

And Kyle Germann's Blog

And Jay's Blog, Bizarre Zoology

Monday, 27 February 2012

Dead Bunyip Preserved in Outline

There was a dry creek bed in Australia where the Aboriginies say that a Bunyip had died and to commemmorate the event, thet forever afterward maintained its outline in the surface of the dry creek bed

The bunyip was rarely found in traditional Aboriginal art. Surely this omission is highly significant?

It is surprising to find that the bunyip has almost no established image in Aboriginal art. Perhaps this is because it was so rarely seen and so terrible to approach? Aboriginal belief in the evocative power of such an image may also have discouraged them from drawing any outline of their fears.
There is one major exception. At an unknown period in the Dreaming, a creature which the local Aboriginal people believed to be a bunyip died on the banks of Fiery Creek near Ararat in Victoria.
The experience was so remarkable that the Djapwurrong people constructed an outline around the carcass in order to preserve its shape. Spears were dug into the ground around it and the turf was later removed to create a sacred site. The Djapwurrong people returned each year to renew this outline.
It was there in 1840 when white settlers arrived and was first sketched in the mid-nineteenth century. By this time the outline was about nine metres long and its shape had become distorted and rather enigmatic. Viewed from one direction it looked like an emu; from another, it looked like a seal.
It was named the Challicum bunyip after a nearby station. The area finally returned to nature and the outline of the bunyip faded from sight

In this case I think it is self-evident the Bunyip had been a large seal much like an elephant seal:

More on Bunyips later, I think I am going to run a mini-series on them.

Also recognisably a bigmouthed elephant seal with "Dog teeth"

The elephant seal's drooping nose is sometimes described as a beak and the eyes of the seal can glow green like a dog's eyes do in certain lights. Bunyip image from Karl Shuker.


  1. seal me bum -its a dog faced Bunyip .

  2. The majority of experts would turn your words around and then tell you dog-faced Bunyips ARE SEALS

    Best Wishes, Dale D.

  3. Although I agree, the outlined form does look a lot like a seal of some type, but from my understanding, Bunyips may have been a previously extant species of GIANT (and i mean GIANT) river otter. It would best explain the speed, the appearance and potential power and ability to dispatch many humans, especially a pair defending it's young.

    Giant Amazonian River Otter

    Incidentally, I used to have pair of pet rats named Bunyip and Sasquatch. =)

  4. Oh I know Amazonian Giant otters well enough-otters are just not supposed to be present in Austraila (or New Zealand either, except the Waitoreke makes a better otter candidate) The theory as mentioned by Heuvelmans and subsequent authors actually is that the Bunyip would be a previously-unsuspected marsupial otter analogue and actually that might go with the smaller series of reports (about 5 feet long) rather than the larger sized series. See the subsequent posting on Beastly Bunyips.

    In this case that is hardly necessary because the outline in the creek bed is a spot-on exact match for an elephant seal in shape. And an otter would have an extra pair of limbs. The elephant seal would have been approximately 20-25 feet long.

    Best Wishes, Dale D.

  5. That makes sense Dale, thanks. I just realized too, that the outline ALSO vaguely looks like a dinosaur or perhaps a large flightless bird. Depending on of course which end is the head =D

  6. Only those things have long, strong legs: the outline shows more likely flippers, my friend. It is a disproportionate bird or dinosaur but a remarkably accurate tracing of a big seal's outline. And my feeling is that it was meant to be viewed longwise-with-nose-end up rather than long-neck-and-head-down. I know that part is harder to prove but that is my preferred orientation of it.

    Best Wishes, Dale D.

  7. My concern with the reference to 'otters' is that they appear to be from a more modern mammalian line. It may well be that this critter was an 'otter'-like marsupial survivor from the Pleistocene. We are only talking about 10's of thousands of years before modern times. Aboriginal Australians may well have encountered these or as yet undescribed species.
    I wouldn't rule out the 'seal' pinniped hypothesis, its a long way to the beach from Ararat (ACDC song?) but the Murray Darling system does provide an aquatic corridor & given the water clarity of the system as reported by my grandfather, it wouldn't be impossible for a pinniped to navigate, feed & if it had company, breed. Imagine coming face to face with a sea lion or leopard seal for the first time without any cultural reference to marine mammals.
    The thing that throughs me is the reference to facial appendages, beaks, claws & feathers. But then again we can see these references being made to 'beach monsters' today that turn out to be soggy, decayed modern mammals wash up on beaches & reported widely by Froteans world wide.
    Kindest regards,
    Jeremy H

  8. Personally, I think a stray elephant seal, as being the "secret identity" of the bunyip, is far more likely than the same creature being the source of those two "monster" sightings in the White River of Arkansas (USA). First, in the 1930's. Then, a second and last time, in the 1960's.

    I forget who first postulated that "Whitey" was a nomadic bull sea elephant. The late Ivan Sanderson, maybe. But, there are one or two factors that mitigate against that. First; elephant seals proper only live along the Pacific coast of the Americas and Antarctica. Secondly; while they do have Atlantic-dwelling relatives (the hooded seals), with the same inflatable nose-sac on the part of the males, the latter grow to only about half the size of the former.

    So, if Whitey really is/was a stray sea elephant, I think it more likely to have been a circus animal that escaped from captivity during winter quartering. And, if born and raised in the Arctic North Pacific at the time it was first captured, it was probably trying to make it back home, the first time it was sighted in that aforementioned Mississippi tributary.

  9. This is actually a secondary issue, but there is a series of "Monster" reports which sound as if they are describing Elephant seals from the warmer areas of the North Atlantic, on both sides. And the theory was brought up by Roy Mackal: it only happened to go along with some other "Monster" data that Ivan had collcted but did not connect up. There are several postings that have to do with that matter. Most recently posted I believe there was a little clay model which resembled an elephant seal found in an Archaeological context in Texas.

    1. Given the relatively recent return of "Chessie the Manatee" to the waters of Maryland, I'm more inclined to believe the model for the Texan carving might have been a subspecies of Sirenidae slightly more amphibious than modern-day "sea cows."

    2. I'm surprised at you for even offering an opinion without even bothering to look at the object! actually the depiction is the wrong shape for a sirenian, has a moderate length of neck, and has hinder flippers and not a manatee's tail. And it confirms the visual reports of "Sea Monsters" in the same waters which are descrbed as being like elephant seals otherwise. I'm afraid you are fighting for a lost cause trying to explain away the reports any other way. The reports go back at least to the 1920s and 1930s, and they are supported both by tracks and by clear photographs. And the tracks and reports continue around Brazil by way of Marajao Islans to the Southern Atlantic coasts of Brazil, where sea elephant occurances are not disputed at all.

    3. I did look at the object! And, I think it just as plausible that the carving could be of a proto-sirenid that was once just as ambulatory on land as, say, sea lions. Given how the modern-day ones are semi-distant relatives of proboscideans.*

      * "Lost causes are the best ones worth fighting for."
      ---Anonymous (no relation!)

  10. Once again I do not have the option to reply-to-a-reply. The short answer is that known animal candidates are always preferable to made-up ones. If you are advoxating a protosirenian which has by convergence acquired the outline of an Elephant seal, that is one thing that I have heard about before: but the trouble is it is unnecessarily convoluted. And in this case we not only have other similar depictions from the same general area, we do have a series of visual sightings to go on, tracks, and even a few clear photographs. The photos show an elephant seal beyond any shadow of a doubt


This blog does NOT allow anonymous comments. All comments are moderated to filter out abusive and vulgar language and any posts indulging in abusive and insulting language shall be deleted without any further discussion.