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12 animals mistaken for mythical creatures

By: Bryan Nelson on June 9, 2010, 1:25 p.m.
Diprotodon, mythical bunyip

Photo: © N. Tamura/Wikimedia Commons

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The diprotodon, also known as the giant wombat, was the largest marsupial that ever lived. The enormous creature was known to exist as recently as 40,000 years ago, which means that it would have been around by the time humans migrated to Australia. Some experts suggest the diprotodon is the origin of the mythical monster known to Australian Aboriginals as the bunyip. The diprotodon still lives on in the rich cultural memory of Aboriginal lore, and some tribes identify diprotodon fossils as "bunyip bones". Both creatures share some key behaviors, such as lurking in swamps and billabongs.