History - AustralianAustralian CultureAustralian IdentityAustralian animalsCultural Comparisons Between Australia and other CountriesAustralian Prehistory


Australian Environmental Issues

Blue-tongue
A true-blue battler

Box jellyfish
How to avoid the stings and what to do if stung

Crocodile
So you wrestle crocs...

Dingo
Unfairly judged in killing off the thylacine?

Echidna
The wise little gnomes of Australia

Emu
Victors of the great Emu war

Flies
Shaping everything from how Australians speak to how they salute

Funnel Web spider
Yyou'll never leave your ugg boots outside

Kangaroo
Most herbivores don't grow a spine until they are the size of an elephant. Not so the roo.

Snakes
Kill less people than cows

Shark attack Australia
How to ensure you don't go by the name of Bob

Tasmanian Devil
The solution to mainland extinctions?

Tasmanian Tiger
A sad tale

Wombat
Keg of muscle

Quoll
The mainland's largest marsupial carnevore

Mythical creatures
Yowies and dropbears; some say they are myths but those who are not afraid to talk have shared their stories

 

 

Email

 

 

 

 

Mythical Creatures

The mysteries of Australia evolution

The Yowie

Over the years, there have been well over 3000 reports of a huge, hairy, ape like creature with very big feet. It is always seen alone, is extremely shy of humans, screams offensively and like the nth American big foot, possesses a vile odour. For example, in the Mudgee district in 1903, a Yowie sighting described what appeared to be suspiciously like a dwarfed version of Chewbacca:

"A peculiar animal, five feet high, standing on his two hind legs and at the same time brushing away with claw-like hands the unkempt hair from his eyes. The animal is covered in long white hair and when seen was uttering the cries which had been disturbing the neighbourhood. "

So is the Yowie a figment of the Australians love of grog or desire to live in fantasy world in the pre Star Wars age? In regards to mystical creatures like the Mermaid, some sceptics have noted a tendency of humans to imagine what they want to exist. Indeed this theory explains why drunk sailors with blue balls looked at dolphins and saw aquatic ladies built for giving blowjobs; however, it defies logic as to why someone would want to imagine a big hairy primate that emits a vile odour. After all, a trip to the Melbourne fruit markets would find plenty of these.

Other sceptics have cited the tendency of American shooters to mistake bushwalkers for deer as evidence that people have failing eyesight in the wilderness. Indeed there does seem to be such a case of mistaken identity in one Yowie sighting. In 1987 the Alice Springs' police station received a call from a frightened family. The family had stopped for a cup of tea after a morning of rabbit hunting. Then a huge ape like creature, two meters tall and covered in hair, leapt out of an empty water tank and began walking towards them. The family fled to their truck and the creature ran after them before disappearing into the bush. The man, Frank Burns, believed it was a man; however, the woman, Phyllis Kenny, told the press she could tell the difference between man and beast and this was definitely a beast.

The following day police searched the area and found a man, 203 centimetres tall weighing an estimated 127-159 kg (or about two Oprah Winfreys) sitting naked by the roadside. He was then taken to the local mental hospital.

Of the reported sightings that haven't later revealed to be an escaped mental patient or a hermit in jungle attire, some almost appear credible. In 2000, a Mr Steve Piper was filming in the Brindabella Ranges south of Canberra when he captured a hairy figure limping through the bush. The film was subsequently entered into the public record when shown on the prime-time news. Local university students later claimed it a hoax played by walking through the bush in an old koala suit. However Yowie experts dismissed their confession, saying that it was their claims rather than the film that was a fabrication.

 
Stever Piper video

 
Big hairy man gives his first-hand account of chasing the big hairy Yowie

Australia's foremost authority on the subject, Tim the Yowie Man, is convinced that Yowies do exist. Tim began his career as a mild mannered economist but his life changed after coming face to face with a Yowie during a bushwalking expedition. Tim realised his calling and gave up the figures to investigate those mysterious occurrences that others were too afraid to openly discuss. Tim named his genre "cryptonaturalism" and to this day, he remains the genre's only occupant.

The oral history of Aborigines also records a strange ape-like creature. Depending on which area of Australia the Aborigines lived and which tribe they belonged, they had names for the creature including "Noocoonah", "Doolagahl", "Gooligah", "Quinken", "Thoolagal", "Yaroma", "Yahoo", "Jingera", "Jimbra" and "Tjandara".

Could primates have evolved into humans in multiple regions and could one of those strains of primates evolved into the Yowie? There are some who would say yes!  Evidence in support of the view comes from archaeological excavations at Kow Swamp by Professor Alan Thorne from the ANU. The skeletons showed Homo erectus features, such as thick brow ridges, very large faces and huge teeth. Well, maybe the evidence isn't that strong but it just goes to show that there are some surprised in Australia that are not always easy to explain.

If the Yowie was not a remnant Homo erectus, could it have been an unusal marsupial? If a marsupial evolved into a wolf like creature, in a similar example of parallel evolution, could a marsupial also have evolved into a primate like creature? The fossil record shows there once existed a kangaroo three meters tall, weighing 300kg with long arms and front paws equipped with two extra-long fingers. Its face was flat and it had forward facing eyes. Could this have been the creature once referred to as "Noocoonah", "Doolagahl", "Gooligah", "Quinken"? As someone who reconstructed the fossil imagined:

"It's very tall when it's standing up, it's higher than a man with a short face, with bifocal vision, massively thickset, and performing an action that is unique to these animals I believe, is that they can raise their arms above their shoulders, and that's how they used to grasp vegetation and pull it down to eat. And so, if you have a thing like this, stooped, muscular... working through the trees and the bushes in the early morning, well, you might well imagine it's a man beast" Leigh Milne


Drop bear

Upon a particularly toxic species of eucalypt has evolved a highly aggressive and territorial sub-species of koala known as the Dropbear. They aren't particularly dangerous, but will drop from the branches onto the shoulders of bushwalkers below, and proceed to claw and bite. There has been the occasional fatality caused by a jugular being punctured but usually the victim suffers nothing more than a nasty shock and a couple of scratches. More people are hospitalised each year from bee stings. Nevertheless, many Australians walk in the bush with umbrellas or wearing bicycle helmets to reduce the threat.

Of course, Dropbears aren't real, the story was was just made up to fool Americans. Or was it...? Australians have a black sense of humour and enjoying laughing at another's misfortune. As American visitor numbers to Australia have increased, so has awareness of the Dropbear legend making Americans reluctant to venture into the bush without wearing bicycle helmets as well. It may well be that portraying the Dropbear as a myth is a cunning ploy to lull Americans into a false sense of security. Fooled into thinking Dropbears aren't real, an Australian can lead an American into a known Dropbear region.

The Australian Parks and Wildlife Service has also been accused of downplaying the risk so as not to damage the tourism industry. A spokeswoman, who declined to be named, admitted:

"It's always a balancing act between commercial considerations and the the duty of care owed to the public. Whatever we do, there will always be one side unhappy."

 

 

Invasive ferals

Carp

Carp and Trout
A tale of two ferals

New hope for Cane Toads
The many unknown predators of the toad

Rabbits
A fence almost 2,000 km long to keep rabbits out of WA? Sounds like a great idea! If it doesn't work, we'll build another one!

The Willow
How a change in its status from asset to weed led to fish kills with blackwater and blue-green algae outbreaks

To bait dingos?
Should the health of the ecosystem be considered or just the kennel club registration?

Koala control
What to do about the "koala plague" on Kangaroo Island

Cat
Apex predator in Australia. Confined to urban areas in America.

Environmental values

Environmental problems
How money and ideology shapes environmental "science."

Bushfire
Australia's Stockholm Syndrome with gum trees.

The Kangaroo industry
Should we eat skippy?

Climate change in Australia
Australia was once covered in rainforest. Could it be again?

Sustainability
The dark side of sustainable environmental policies

Native pets
Why no pet wombats?

 

 

       

Australian environmental science is defined by an ideology that is not unlike a prison warden. There, the scientists are not seeing themselves as part of the ecosystem, but as masters over it; protecting the rights of the species that they say have rights and killing those that they say do not…but inevitably killing both.

"It was always seen as desirable to remove or cull the introduced species. We also need to ask whether it was possible to do so, how it should be done, whether it could have unintended consequences and what it would cost? I don't think anyone really asked those questions." Physicist John Reid - 2012