Death of the Giants

  • Geoffrey Blainey


In the 1830s the bones of a puzzling creature were discovered in a cave near Wellington, west of the Blue Mountains. Part of the jaw was carried to Sydney and shipped to London where the anatomist Sir Richard Owen concluded with some excitement that it belonged to an animal hitherto unknown to science: he named it the diprotodon.* A few years later, in 1847, a complete skeleton of a diprotodon was collected from the banks of a tributary of the Condamine in southern Queensland and sold for about $100. In Sydney the enormous head, the tusk-like teeth, and the massive skeleton were marvelled at by those who crowded around as if they were seeing an exhibit in a side-show. Some of the bones, wrote the geologist Reverend W. B. Clarke, were so large ‘as to show that some individuals of this genus might have attained a size much greater than that of the largest elephant.’


Tasmanian Devil Breeding Habit Cape York Peninsula Western Australian Museum Rock Painting 
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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1975

Authors and Affiliations

  • Geoffrey Blainey

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