Mihirung Paringmal

Giant flightless Bird of Australia.

Etymology: Tjapwurong (Australian), "giant emu."

Physical description: Like the Emu (Dromaius novaehollandiae) but larger.

Distribution: Western Victoria; New South Wales; Queensland.

Significant sighting: Known from rock paintings in Cape York, Queensland, and rock carv mihirung paringmal 335

ings at Mootwingee, New South Wales. Aboriginal legends tell of giant birds that were still alive when volcanos were erupting in the Western District of Victoria, most recently in approximately 3000-2000 B.C PP'ossible explanations:

(1) Aboriginal memories of the recently extinct Genyornis newtoni, a Late Pleistocene species of dromornithid bird related to ducks and geese that stood about 6 feet 7 inches tall and survived at least as recently as 26,000 years ago. Known from complete skeletons near Lake Callabonna in South Australia and isolated bones elsewhere.

(2) Aboriginal memories of Dromornis stirtoni, one of the largest flightless birds that ever lived, known from fossils in the Northern Territory dating from the Late Miocene to the Pleistocene, 15 million-30,000 years ago. Also a dromornithid, it weighed more than 1,300 pounds, stood 9 feet tall, and had a huge beak and jaw.

Sources: James Dawson, Australian Aborigines: The Languages and Customs of Several Tribes of Aborigines in the Western District of Victoria, Australia (Melbourne, Australia: G. Robertson, 1881), pp. 92-93; Patricia Vickers-Rich and Gerard Van Tets, eds., Kadimakara: Extinct Vertebrates of Australia (Lilydale, Vic., Australia: Pioneer Design Studio, 1985), pp. 17, 188-194.

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