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Rainforest-dwelling, Mountain-dwelling, Savannah-dwelling, Swamp-dwelling
Herbivore, Lazarus taxon, Physical evidence, Prints casted, Featured in Native folklore
Genyornis was a genus of extremely large herbivorous bird, resembling ratites, but are actually closer to modern-day waterfowl that inhabited Australia in the Pleistocene, until 18,000 years ago. Genyornis was one of the largest birds to ever exist and were the largest flightless birds that weren’t ratites, reaching 10 ft in height and weighing about 1,600 pounds.
Some have speculated that the genyornis may have survived much more recently then what is currently thought, or might even still exist. The Djab wurrung mob, who inhabit central Victoria have folklore of a creature they call the mihirung paringmal, meaning “giant bird” that they believe, went extinct when the volcanoes in their country erupted, which was in about 3,000 BCE.
Post-European reports of Genyornis exist as well. One of the strangest and most convincing pieces of evidence for the late survival of a genyornis was in 1930, when Vic Roberts found an enormous unfossilized egg half buried in some dunes only 500 yards from the ocean in the Scott River region of Western Australia. With a whopping 2 ft circumference that could hold a capacity of one and a half gallons of fluid (or 135 chicken eggs), it is an absolute mystery as to what could have laid the egg. It was later sent to the Western Australia Museum where it still is. It was conclusively shown to belong to some kind of bird, although no extant bird species had an egg remotely of this size, however prehistoric genyornis eggs can reach such sizes.
In 1967, George and Jean Rollo were traversing the rainforest near Robertson in New South Wales when they heard a large crashing noise, like the sound of branches cracking. They looked behind them and saw a creature they described as a “super emu”, which was about nine feet tall, with a long neck, vestigial wings and had little plumage. Abruptly, the creature dashed towards them, and they ran away. Another sighting was in 1977 by the herpetologist Richard Wells, who reported seeing a massive bluish flightless bird near El Sherana Mine in the Northern Territory.
In 2005, Frankie Shoveller, a Karajarri musician and teacher from the remote community of Bidyadanga in Western Australia, filmed a series of massive three-toed, footprints in the sand on a beach. He was shown the tracks by local children who were fishing. Though these tracks are often theorized to belong to a burrunjor, many locals from Bidyadanga believe they belong to a gigantic flightless bird, as they do somewhat resemble an emu's footprint, albeit much larger.