Up to five skeletons of Australia’s largest known marsupial to have ever lived are being pieced together by palaeontologists in the Pilbara, Western Australia.


At an excavation zone on a remote mine site at Du Boulay Creek in the Pilbara’s Fortescue River Floodplain, palaeontologists are working to excavate a possible herd of Diprotodons, a predecessor of the modern-day wombat and koala.

The first skeleton discovered at this site was found by chance back in 1991 and is on display in Perth’s Boola Bardip Museum.

This time around, in a first for Western Australian scientists, an entire Diprotodon skull is part of this exciting discovery. Palaeontologists and visiting high school students have been sifting and excavating the area to unearth more megafauna as well as evidence of molluscs and crabs. The skeletons will be kept at Boola Bardip Museum in Perth.

Scientists now believe there could be up to ten megafauna skeletons at the site both juvenile and adult, male and female. As Diprotodons were believed to roam in herds and considering the range of ages discovered, it’s thought this area could have been a significant migration route for the marsupials.

Diprotodon Facts

  • The proto-wombat is a close relative to the wombat and koala we know and love today but was significantly larger!
  • This herbivorous wombat-like creature roamed the land munching on saltbush and vegetation for tens of thousands of years
  • It measured up to four metres in length, 1.7 metres tall, and weighed almost three tonnes
  • Diprotodon co-existed with the first people before becoming extinct around 25,000 years ago
  • Diprotodon bones have previously been found in five other sites in Western Australia as well as Darling Downs in southeastern Queensland; Wellington Caves, Tambar Springs, and Cuddie Springs in NSW; Bacchus Marsh in Victoria; and Lake Callabonna, Naracoorte Caves, and Burra in South Australia
  • So far, no evidence has been found in southwest Western Australia, the Northern Territory or Tasmania, although they were present on Tasmania’s King Island


Impression of a Diprotodon by zoology and palaeontology artist Peter Schouten | Image thanks to Boola Bardip Museum, Perth

While it’s hard to imagine the Diprotodon, who has a face only a mother could love, ever being an Instafamous Megafauna megastar or candidate for ‘Wombat Wednesday‘, we’re sure the Diprotodon would have won some hearts. After all, Australians love their marsupials. Diprotodon selfie, anyone?


Wombat Hill Weekend // Morton National Park (NSW) Gabby Massey wombat

Photo by Gabby Massey


Feature image thanks to Boola Bardip Museum, Perth