The Melbourne Argus
Date: June 29, 1847
Page Number: 2
Mr. Hobler, a settler at Nap Nap, on the Murumbidgee, gives the following account of a living specimen of the Bunyip, in a letter published in the Sydney Morning Herald.
Mr. H. says The Lachlan when flooded spreads its waters over an immense extent of low- land, covered with reeds, through which the water finds its way to the junction, with the Murrumbidgee. There is on the edge of this large reed bed, about twelve miles from the junction a cattle station, recently settled by a Mr Tyson the river has been overflowing these reed beds for some month's past.
Well, some few weeks ago, an intelligent lad in Tyson's employ who was in search of the milking cows on the edge, and just inside this reed bed, where there are occasionally patches of good grass, came suddenly, in one of these openings upon an animal grazing, which he thus describes: it was about as big as a six months' old calf, of a dark brown colour, a long neck, and long pointed head, it had large ears, which it pricked up when it perceived him , had a thick main of hair from the head down to the neck, and two large tusks , he turned to run away, and this creature equally alarmed, ran off too, and from the glance he took at it, he des- cubes it as having an awkward shambling gallop , the fore-quarters of the animal were very large in proportion to the hind quarters, and it had a large tail, but whether he compared it to that of a horse or a bullock I do not recollect, he took two men to the place next morning to look for its track, which they describe as broad and square, somewhat like what the spread hand of a man would make in soft muddy ground.
The lad had never heard of the kine pratia, and yet his description in some respects tally with that of the aborigines, who pretend to have seen them, so that I am inclined to think there is one of these extraordinary animals still living within a few miles of me, and I cannot but entertain a hope of being some day fortunate enough to come in contact with one, and if so, I shall do my best to bring him home with me. Captain Hovell, who communicates Mr. Hobler's letter to the Herald, gives a similar description of another live specimen seen by a shepherd in the Murrumbidgee.
Letters to the Editor
The Sydney Morning Herald
Date: July 2, 1847
Page Number: 3
Gentlemen,—Your insertion of the communications of your correspondents concerning the Bunyip or Kine Pratie of the Lower Murrumbidgee, tempts me to address you on the same interesting subject. I am induced to do so by a report, of the existence of which you have perhaps not heard, but the prevalence of which, unless contradicted by good authority, prove highly prejudicial to the laudable researches and revelations of those who have through your columns delivered to the public the details of their discoveries. The report I allude to is this; that one of the camels driven towards South Australia, some time ago, was lost by the drovers, in the vicinity, of Mr. Hobler's station, Nap Nap, and that there is every reason to believe that the skull of the supposed Kine Pratie is that of the lost camel, and therefore apocryphal only to those ignorant of the ways of the Arabian "ship of the desert;" and that such an elucidation of the mystery has been pronounced highly probable by more than one comparative anatomist, and in particular by one resident in Van Diemen's Land. The blood and integument, described as adhering to the discovered bones, disproving a palaeontological character, are, it is asserted, a strong confirmation of the report.
As my object is merely to elicit scientific opinion, and not in any manner now to give my own, I will hazard no further remark, but remain your obodient servant.
PHILALETHES.June 22nd, 1847.
On the skull now exhibited at the Colonial Museum of Sydney as that of "the Bunyip"
by W. S. MacLeay
The Sydney Morning Herald
July 7, 1847
Page Number: 3
Gentlemen, - The Honorable the Speaker at the Legislative Council having on Friday last kindly placed in my hands for examination
the portion of a skull, which has been sent to him by Mr. Edward Curr, of Port Phillip, as that of the so-called Bunyip or Kine Pratie,
I am induced to offer the following account of it to the public, the more particularly, as another and still extraordinary skull in
my possession offers very considerable means for throwing light on the subject. An inscription on the skull sent up to Sydney from
Port Phillip states, that it was found in 1846, on the Lower Murrumbidgee, by Mr. Atholl T. Fletcher. It is in some degree artificially
patched up, and very imperfect ; there being under jaw and no lower inter-maxillary bone or incisors to the upper jaw. The upper part
of the frontal and parietal bones are also deficient, as well as the sphenoidals. It is said to have been found bloody, and marks
of gnawing teeth are visible round the upper part of it, which is wanting. Part of membranes and ligaments still remain attached,
so that this cranium far from being fossil is quite fresh.
On a first inspection it seems very anomalous, differing from the
skulls of all known Mammalia, and gives us the notion of some bird such as the Emu or Ostrich, which is owing to the breadth between
the eye-orbits, which is owing to the great development of the occiput. This last is so extensive to present somewhat the form of
the skull in Man and other animals of the order Primates, rather than the truncated occipital form of that of Mammalia in general.
The extreme fragility and lightness of the cranium and the sharpness of the crowns of the molars which are only milk teeth,
show that the animal was quite young, if not a foetus. These first molars, which are three on each side, are exactly those of a young
foal having that fifth and subtriangular crown between their inner crescents which distinguishes the genus Equua from the Raminatia
and all other quadrupeds. The animal was therefore like a horse graminivorous. The maxillary bones are exactly those of a horse, and
the infra--or bital foramen is situated in the same way with relation to the eyes and jaw. The post-orbitary apophyse of the frontal
bone closes in the case the orbit behind by forming a junction with a corresponding apophyse of the zygomatic arch. This is a character
among the Ungulata of the Ruminating animals as well as of the horse; and the shortness of the nasal bones, and the extension of the
occiput remind as somewhat of certain of the camel tribe, more particularly the Auchenia, or Peruvian Lama, which is known to make
a distant approach in affinity to the Solipedes. But in the immense development of the frontal and parietal bones, the elevation of
the frontals, and in the depression of the jugals, so low as almost to touch the molars, this skull differs from that the ordinary
hoarse, and every other mammiferous animal whatever.
I have however, I repeat, in my possession the skull of a foetus of a mare,
which was found floating on the river Hawkesbury, in the year 1841. This skull was prepared by the lamented late Dr. Stewart, and
he has made drawings and notes of it, which I intend before long to publish, with his other observations on various branches of natural
history. Now the great elevation of the cranium, and the extraordinary development of the frontal, parietal, and occipital bones,
are more remarkable in this foal's head than in the animal from the Murrumbidgee. The grand distinction between the two skulls is
that while in this the ocular orbits are as far as possible almost touching the molars, in the Hawkesbury skull the verge so as to
unite and form one circular orbit in the middle of the forehead, the animal being thus a true Cyclops. This most astonishing structure
is occasioned by the nasal bones being totally wanting, by the inter-maxillaries being reduced to a mere rudimentary tubercle, and
by the single orbit in the forehead being formed below by the junction of the lacrymals, and above by that of the post-orbitary apocaphyae
of the frontals, all enormously developed for the purpose of filling up the vacancy occasioned by the want of the nasal bones. In
the Murrumbidgee skull skull the bones that are deficient in the other one are here excessively developed, so as to force the eyes
down on the upper jaw. I am thus inclined to consider it to be likewise the skull of a mishapen foal or foetus of a mare; its peculiar
monstrosity consisting in the eyes being located in a manner opposite to that which prevails in the I exactly foal. This is monstrous
by extreme convergency of the eyes, the Murrumbidgee foal by the extreme divergency of the same organs. I argue for this skull being
a lusus nature on the ground of skull being absolutely identical in some respects with that of a foal, while in others it is totally
different from the cranium of all known mammalia ; and naturalists will here recollect the Linnean apophthegm respecting the order
of the creation, "Natura nor facit saltus." Besides I may advance another proof of the animal having been mishapen or imperfect, in
the fact of there being no super-orbitary foramen such as exists in the horse and ruminantia. The excessive development of the hinder
part of the cranium is the result also of the malformation of the bones of the face, as we see in the Hawkesbury monster.
the Murrumbidgee skull should eventually be proved to belong to a distinct species, this new animal must be placed between the horse
and the lama, only closer to the horse. But I do not imagine that, even then, it can be identical with the so-called Bunyip of which
so many unintellible accounts have been given in the Sydney papers; for the Bunyip is said to be a solitary aquatic animal, whereas
this skull must have belonged to a solipede, which if full grown would have delighted in grass, dry land and the society of its own
species. In my judgment, however, the animal is not new, and this skull, when compared with the one front the Hawkesbury, only serves
to show the extreme limits between which all monstrous variation of the place of the eyes in the horse can possibly occur.
have the honour to be,
Your obedient servant,
W. S. MACLEAY. Elizabeth Bay, 5th July, 1847.
The deformed foetal skull of a mare found on the Hawkesbury river, 1941 and used as a comparison with the 1846 Murrumbidgee "Bunyip"
skull by W.S. Macleay.
MACLEAY, WILLIAM SHARP (1792-1865), scholar and naturalist, was born on 21 July 1792 in London, the eldest son of Alexander McLeay.
He was educated at Westminster School, where he distinguished himself as a classical scholar, and in 1809 proceeded to Trinity College,
Cambridge (B.A., 1814; M.A., 1818). In 1818 he was appointed attaché to the British embassy in Paris and secretary to the board for
liquidating British claims on the French government. In 1825 he
became British commissioner of arbitration to the conjoint British and Spanish Court of Commission in Havana for the abolition of the slave trade; in 1830 he became commissary judge in that court, and by 1833 he was judge to the Mixed Tribunal of Justice. He remained in Havana until 1836, when he retired with a pension of £900. He arrived in March 1839 in Sydney where he spent the remainder of his life living at his father's home, Elizabeth Bay House, which he inherited in 1848.
To the Editors of the Sydney Morning Herald
Sydney Morning Herald
Date: July 13,1847
Page Number: 2
GENTLEMEN,-Some months since a number of bones were found upon the banks of the Murrumbidgee, near the junction with the Lachlan,
and which were supposed to belong to an extinct animal, whose existence was alone chronicled in the traditionary legends of the aboriginals.
The printed report of the discovery above alluded to (and which appeared I in your journal in the form of a letter from Mr. Hovell,
of Goulburn,) caused great conjecture to arise, and excited much interest on the subject, but failed to produce any authentic data
on which the naturalist could form a reasonable surmise as to the "order" to which the apocryphal animal belonged. Beyond the fact
that certain indescribable bodies had been seen in various places, by parties who did not profess to be able to form an opinion as
to whether they might be otters or horses; and certain nondescript sounds had been heard (whether produced by oxen or whales, the
writers could not say), the subject of the supposed existence of a new order of animals has been veiled in obscurity until now, when
something tangible has been elicited.
Both Mr. Hobler and Mr. Hovell have taken much interest in the subject, and by the letter
of the former gentleman, which appears in your columns of Wednesday last, it is evident he at least has no doubt of the actual existence
of an animal which he there describes as having been seen by one, in whose report, it would appear, he is satisfied he can place reliance.
Mr. Hovell was also informed by a shepherd that he (his informant) had actually seen an animal similar in appearance to that described
by Tyson's stockman. These two pieces of evidence, taken abstractedly, may certainly be regarded as proof that in the neighbourhood
I of the Lachlan there exists an animal of which the zoological history of New South Wales presents no parallel. Still it is not to
be wondered at if people (like myself) who are well acquainted with the Munchauscean propensities of the shepherds and stockmen beyond
the limits, take the liberty to call in question the veracity of their statements on such a question as this. Few persons would credit
the excitement which was caused amongst all classes on the Lower Murrumbidgee by the printed report of the supposed existence of so
formidably an animal as the "bunyip" -was made to appear, and almost every one became immediately aware that he had heard "strange
sounds" from the lagoons at night, or had seen "something black" in the water, which if not it whale, was "very like a whale" and
some who read this will smile at the remembrance of the high state of excitement they were thrown into by the appearance (on the surface
of the Murrumbidgee) of sleeping turtle, which being rather larger than usual, and appearing in a peculiar manner, was taken for the
crown of the bunyip's head! At a sheep station of my father's, situated on the edge of a deep but small lagoon, sounds were heard
in the water during the night, as of a largo body floundering about; and a noise resembling the pawing of a heavy animal, round the
borders of the little lake, caused a superstitious dread to seize the inmates of the hut, but it turned out to be the result of some
gamboling wild colts' freaks, who, in the hot summer nights, were enjoying a bathe in the cool waters of the lagoon, and the luxury
of a good roll afterwards in the dry sands on the bank! Such errors of judgment and false conclusions arose solely from the reported
existence of a bunyip; and I am of opinion the same morbid ideas might lead equally to an optical as to an oral delusion. I, therefore,
in common with many, doubt the evidence on which Mr. Hobler relies; but I am disposed to believe that at one time there did exist,
in the western district alluded to, an animal (which I shall presently describe) somewhat similar to that spoken of by the aboriginals
as a traditionary creature, and to which I have no doubt whatever the bones recently found belong. I am also of opinion that the animal
still exists along the north coast, and that many of the tracks seen by Leichhardt, and taken by him on casual observation for those
of the alligator, belonged to this creature. I should not be surprised, if, on the return of our enterprising explorer, we should
have the animal referred to added to our zoological possessions.
The creature to which I suppose the bones found near Mr. Hobler's
belong, is the "Tapirus Malayanus," or Malay Tapir, differing in form from the American Tapir, but of the same genus, and which was
for years considered as a lost link in the order Pachydermata, or hoofed animals (to which it belongs), until it was discovered in
the warm districts of South America not very many years since. As the habits of both these creatures are identical, and as a description
of the American species would be unnecessary, I will confine myself to the animal in which we are mostly interested, the Malay Tapir.
In size he is about eight feet in length, six in circumference, and from four and a-half to five feet in height. The eyes are
small, the ears large and roundish, bordered with white. The skin is thick and firm, thinly covered with short hair, and a very short
stiff mane passes along the neck. (The American variety possesses the mane along the whole length of its body.) The tail is short,
and almost destitute of hair; the legs are short and stout. Its general appearance is heavy and massive, somewhat resembling the hog.
At the age of four months it is black, beautifully marked with spots and stripes of a fawn colour above, and white below; at six months
it assumes its permanent colours of black, with a simple large white patch covering the back mid sides, but not meeting under the
belly. The skull is moderate, compressed laterally, especially on the upper side, the cheeks being convex. It is furnished with a
flexible probosis, about eight inches in length - the nostrils are placed up high, as in all animals of this class. The feet are furnished
with four toes in front, and three on the hind, each covered with a hoof, and of the size of the toe of an ordinary pig.
frequents humid and warm places, near rivers or lakes, sleeping during the day, concealed in the most secluded and umbrageous places,
and going forth at night in search of food, in the choice of which it is not, very particular, eating gourds, water-melons, reeds,
and leaves, (which it gathers with its trunk), and even flesh. In fact, it is omnivorous. As it is found frequently in woods, where
the soil is dry, there is reason to conclude its habitation is indifferent, provided there is plenty of cover, in which it delights.
It is anable swimmer, can remain under water a long time, and has the property of being able to walk along the bottom, which it searches
for food. It is solitary in its habits, seldom more than one being seen at a time, and is difficult of observation or approach, from
its acute sense of hearing and sight. When alarmed, it takes to the water. In escaping, it does not seek open paths, but breaks through
everything, tearing and bursting all opposition, with its head, which it carries very low.
I should have stated, in reference
to its formation, that the animal has twenty-seven cheek tooth, and in front there are in each jaw six incisors and two canines, separated
from the check teeth by a void space.
The discovery of the American Tapir, is but recent, and that which I have been now describing
was first noticed so lately as 1772, when it was regarded as a hippopotamus, and received no special attention until 1816, when one
was sent to India by Sir Stamford Raffles. It was allowed to roam in the Park at Barrackpore, and its habits were most accurately
studied; it frequently entered the ponds, and walked along the bottom under water, without making any effort to swim.
Classification of Mammalia, with additions," &c.,) will enable the owner of the bones to compare them with the described anatomical
construction of the creature's head, when I have no doubt they will be found to agree. The animal being in existence so near us as
the Malay coasts, and his habits and aquatic abilities rendering it by no means impossible he should come over to us, (a feat to him
of no greater moment, by comparison, than was Leander's Hellespontic excursion,) I have come to the conclusion in my own mind that
he really does exist to the northward, and that our western rivers and extensive morasses and lakes afforded him shelter, ere some
great physiological changes drove him from his retreats. That the recently discovered bones are his, I have little doubt; but whether
he exists at present in the Lower Murrumbidgee country is a question, which, notwithstanding Mr. Tyson s stockman's report, will be
held at least very doubtful by those intimately acquainted with the Murrumbidgee country.
Apologizing for so lengthy an intrusion
on your valuable space,
I remain, Gentlemen,
FRED. A. TOMPSON. Parramatta, June l8.
[This letter has
been inadvertently mislaid, which has caused its detention.-Eds,]
The Malayan Tapir (Tapirus indicus; formerly Tapirus malayanus), also called the Asian Tapir, is the largest of the four species of
tapir and the only one native to Asia.
Seeking information on Fred A. Tomson.
His theory that the Murrumbidgee "Bunyip" skull was that of a Malay tapir was interesting but, ultimately, incorrect. The Wallace
Line acts as a formidable barrier which largely prevents species migration between Asia and Australia.
THE APOCHYPHAL ANIMAL
The Sydney Morning Herald
Date: June 16, 1947
Page Number: 3
To the Editors of the Sydney Morning Herald.
GENTLEMEN, - On the 9th of February last you did me the favour to publish a letter I
sent you, on the subject of the skull of the Kine pratia. I now send you the copy of a letter I received by the last mail, not on
the subject of the skull only, but on a living animal of that name, which you are at liberty to publish. I will merely observe that
this beast, with many names, viz: -Kinepratia, Katimpia, Tamatbah, Dengas, and Bunyip, agrees with the descrip- tion given me by a
shepherd, who states that while he was standing on the bank of the Murrumbidgee, he saw something (similar in ap- pearance to the
one mentioned in the accompanied letter) rise suddenly out of the middle of the stream, that it shewed, as he supposes, about half
its figure, and that while in the act of shaking itself, it caught sight of him, and instantly disappeared, but although the time
could not have exceeded a few moments, he saw sufficient to enable him to describe it to me, and which nearly agrees with what I have
been told by the aborigines.
I remain, Gentlemen,
Your most obedient servant,
WILLIAM H. HOVELL. Goulburn, 11th June, 1847.
Nap Nap, Murrumbidgee, 6th May, 1847.
My Dear Sir, - The interest you have shewn in the Kinepratia, induces me, in return for your
kindness in sending me all the information you could gather, when in this part of the country, to furnish you with such as we have
since acquired, and I shall not be much surprised if you one of these days receive an invitation to repeat your visit to this part,
and have a look at one dead or alive. You know that the Lachlan when flooded spreads its waters over an immense extent of lowland,
covered with reeds, through which the water finds its way to the junction with the Murrumbidgee. There is on the edge of this large
reed bed, about twelve miles from the junction, a cattle station, recently settled by a Mr. Tyson, the river has been overflowing
these reed beds for some months past. Well, some few weeks ago, an intelligent lad in Tyson's employ, who was in search of the milking
cows on the edge, and just inside this reed bed, where there are occasionally patches of good grass, came suddenly, in one of these
openings, upon an animal grazing, which he thus de- scribes: it was about as big as a six months' old calf, of a dark brown colour,
a long neck and long pointed head; it had large ears, which it pricked up when it perceived him; had a thick mane of hair from the
head down the neck, and two large tusks; he turned to run away, and this creature equally alarmed ran off too, and from the glance
he took at it, he describes it as having an awkward shambling gallop; the fore-quarters of the animal were very large in proportion
to the hind- quarters, and it had a large tail, but whether he compared it to that of a horse or a bullock I do not recollect; he
took two men to the place next morning to look for its track, which they describe as broad and square, somewhat like what the spread
hand of a man would make in soft muddy ground. The lad had never heard of the kine pratia, and yet his description in some respects
tally with that of the aborigines, who pretend to have seen them, so that I am inclined to think there is one of these extraordinary
animals still living within a few miles of me, and I cannot but entertain a hope of being some day fortunate enough to come in contact
with one, and if so, I shall do my best to bring him home with me. If you should again risk the perils and dangers by flood and field
necessarily to enable us to meet again at Nap Nap, I hope you will escape the scourge of blight, and be able to see more clearly the
barrenness of most of this part of the country which makes it necessary to devote so large a space to the maintenance of a flock compared
with more favoured lands.
GEORGE HOBLER. W. H Hovell, Esq., J.P., Goulburn.
Revelation in the Age of Bigfoot
A Naked Yowie Project Initiative
Malayan Tapirs grow to between 6 and 8 feet (1.8 to 2.4 m) in length, stand 3 to 3.5 feet (90 to 107 cm) tall, and typically weigh
between 550 and 700 pounds (250 to 320 kg), although they can weigh up to 1,100 pounds (500 kg). The females are usually larger
than the males. Like the other types of tapir, they have small stubby tails and long, flexible proboscises. They have four toes on
each front foot and three toes on each back foot. The Malayan Tapir has rather poor eyesight but excellent hearing and sense of smell.
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