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Giant Wombat Skull

Queensland Museum & Science Centre - Joy of Museums - Giant Wombat Skull

This Giant Wombat Skull is about 80,000 year old skull and was found on Gowrie Creek, Darling Downs, Queensland during the 2011 floods. This skull belonged to one of the largest marsupials that ever lived and was over two metres high and weighed 2000 kilogram. Its scientific name is Diprotodon optatum and it is a type of megafauna that included giant mammals and reptiles that evolved after the extinction of the dinosaurs and roamed the Darling Downs between 1.8 million and 10,000 years ago.

Diprotodon-Human Size comparison

Diprotodon compared to a human

After the mass extinction which saw the demise of giant land-dwelling dinosaurs and ocean based marine reptiles, a new wave of giants evolved. The “Megafauna” were the giants of their time, giant versions from almost every animal group. Giant frogs, lizards, snakes, birds and mammals. Some megafauna still live today, such as the Elephant, Rhinoceros, Whales and crocodiles.

Diprotodon or Marsupial ‘Bear’ was the largest marsupial to ever live and looked like a giant wombat. This animal was up to 4m long and was nearly 2m tall. The Diprotodon was a plant eater and as a marsupial, would have carried an enormous joey in herds just as kangaroos do today.

Diprotodon optatum

Australia was once home to the largest ever monotremes, or egg-laying mammals, marsupials or pouched mammals, lizards and birds. Evidence of these extinct megafauna can be found across Australia as fossilised remains. The story of this skull, is that a week after it was recovered from the creek bank following significant flood erosion, Gowrie Creek flooded again and the skull may have been destroyed, had it not been discovered between floods.

Australia has surviving native megafauna, such as the Red Kangaroo, Emu and Estuarine Crocodile, whilst the oceans that surround our continent are home to the largest living marine megafauna, like the Blue Whale, Giant Squid, Whale Shark and Leatherback turtle.

Among the many historical objects and exhibits in the Queensland Museum & Science Centre, the following are some highlights:

Essential Facts:

  • Title:                 Giant Wombat Skull (Diprotodon optatum)
  • Discovered:     2011
  • Dates:               80,000 BCE
  • Findsite:         Gowrie Creek, Darling Downs, Queensland, Australia
  • Museum:         Queensland Museum & Science Centre

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“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.” Charles Darwin

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Photo Credit: By GordonMakryllos (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons 2) By User. (Own work (Original text: Selfmade.)) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons 3) By Nobu Tamura (http://spinops.blogspot.com) (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons