“All wet” (Bunyip)

Zoologists discover species all the time. But it does not follow that this confirms the existence of terrestrial creatures of significant size whose representatives have all escaped capture, detection, cars, and steady cameras.

Cryptozoology places strong credence in eyewitness or third-hand accounts, legends, and folklore. Cryptozoologists aim to establish the existence of creatures, rather than examining actual animals and are thus engaged in Tooth Fairy Science.

Take for instance the bunyip, long associated with Australian Aborigines. Bunyips have been said to reside in wet locales such as rivers, creeks, and swamps. They feast on any flesh, be it human or a lower animal, and are associated with a nocturnal shrieking.

Consistent with cryptozoology, many persons claim to have seen the creature but no one has ever captured one, examined it up-close, or got indisputable video evidence of it. As such, bunyip descriptions vary, from a mammoth snake sporting a beard and mane to a man-monster hybrid with a bird-like head and elongated neck, to monsters covered with fur and being endowed with flippers that can transform to feet for land excursions. With this possible limited exception, the one constant of bunyip descriptors is that it makes its home in the water. And, of course, the accounts are embellished in future retellings.

Sightings report a creature similar to a seal or dog, often with a dark fur. Another variation has a long-necked animal about 10 feet in length with mammoth ears and modest tusks. They are said to favor a crayfish diet, though a more bloodcurdling option has them feeding on humans, especially women and children.

Author Robert Holden identified about 10 regional variations of the crypto critter. But by whatever form the bunyip takes, almost all evidence is anecdotal, although there have been a few attempts at a scientific spin. The Australian Museum displayed a deformed horse skull in the mid-19th Century and marketed it as having come from a bunyip. With that, eyewitness reports and belief skyrocketed. An article in the Sydney Morning Herald reported that, “Everyone became immediately aware that he had heard strange sounds from the lagoons at night, or had seen something black in the water.”

While the misshapen horse skull was a case of fraud or at least gullibility, a more measured approach at a scientific explanation has proposed the extinct marsupial Diprotodon may be the answer to supposed bunyip remains. Other possible explanations are misidentification of seals or cassowaries.


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