How much of the world have we truly discovered? The mysteries of the world have not been uncovered completely, as many strange and unknown creatures continue lurking in the dark corners and unexplored landscapes.
Many assume that the fact we have categorized the world around us means that we fully know it, but this is far from the truth. From the dense Amazon rainforests to the arid deserts of the Australian continent to the deepest oceans, much of our landscape is understood only in passing, and there is much to surprise us still.
Take for example the stories of the Burrunjor in Australia. Taken at face value they would suggest a surviving enclave of life from the time of the dinosaurs, but what evidence we have of the Burrunjor is fragmentary, mysterious and prone to misinterpretation.
Is the Burrunjor even a real creature, and what does it look like? What is the evidence for this unique creature, hidden somewhere in the vastness of the Australian Outback.
What is a Burrunjor?
Start with what we know: the Burrunjor forms part of the Australian Aboriginal history and creation myths, depictions of which suggest that it looks like a dinosaur. Many accounts imply that it looks like the theropod dinosaurs which would make it the only surviving species of massive dinosaurs in the world.
But then, some depictions show the Burrunjor as more of a smaller predator. Some accounts suggest that it could be the descendant of megaraptorids such as the Rapator, Australovenator or Megaraptor.
At the same time, the Burrunjor could also belong to a dinosaur species which have not been featured in the fossil record anywhere. All my have in terms of its appearance is Aboriginal mythology, which paints the Burrunjor as a giant lizard.
And all the sightings, of course. According to the majority of sightings of the creature, it could be around 20 to 25 feet (6 to 7.5 meters) long and is bipedal in nature. In addition, the small-clawed hands are a possible similarity between the Burrunjor and the Tyrannosaurus Rex.
Over the course of 1950s, it seemed that this creature had leapt out of mythology and become a real life problem. Many cattle ranchers in Australia reported sightings of a large lizard-like predator eating their livestock. Most of the ranchers found bipedal tracks with three-toed imprints and linked them with the traditional accounts.
Some of the earliest accounts by aboriginals suggested that the Burrunjor is a large reptile, also having feathers. Apparently, the diet of the Burrunjor included kangaroos and large animals, thereby suggesting that the predator must be equally sizeable.
The bipedal footprints of the supposedly dinosaur-like creature distinguish it from other assumptions, such as its similarities with prehistoric giant monitor lizards. But one thing was clear: a lot of people were seeing something very unexpected in the Australian wilderness.
An Ancient Predator with a Taste for Cattle
The foremost evidence about the existence of the Burrunjor comes from the traditional history of Aboriginal Australians, which would make it a good place to start. Their history, and the description of Burrunjor comes way before westerners could have told them about the existence of dinosaurs.
In addition, cave paintings throughout Australia have shown depictions of the creature. Although these show a number of variations, on the basics they are consistent. And the paintings look like a carnivorous dinosaur.
Now, some of you may assume that the Burrunjor exists only in the mythology of the aboriginal people in Australia. However, there are some strange anomalies about the landscape the Burrunjor is said to inhabit which might suggest it is not just a legend.
For example, the Australians can tell you the territory the Burrunjor inhabits, just like any other animal of the Outback. Where the Burrunjor has its lair is also notably free from other large wildlife: predators avoid the area almost entirely.
Why would animals fear roaming these areas, which have the same sparse vegetation at everywhere else? It seems that they know of something living there, and that they are afraid.
Then there are the encounters. Take for example the case of an explorer in the Northern Territory named Bryan Clark, who had ventured out into the wilderness of Arnhem Land, and managed to get himself lost.
While Bryan he took around three days to find his way back, it is what the search party found which is of real interest. The three men, two Aborigines and a local policeman, who had gone in search of Bryan reported hearing the sound of loud grunting and puffing noises at night.
In addition, the statements of cattle ranchers from local farms also strengthened beliefs in the existence of the Burrunjor. Ranchers stated on different occasions in 1980 that a big predator was stealing and killing off their livestock.
Apparently, the predator was large enough to carry cattle. Initially, the ranchers believed crocodiles as the potential culprit behind the disappearance of their livestock, but the cattle were not being dragged into the water as you would expect with a crocodile.
Finally a cattle rancher came face to face with the animal that was attacking his livestock. Charles Waterman stated that he saw a beast standing at a height of 20 feet (6 meters) carrying off a cow in its jaws into the bushes.
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Another possible evidence of the existence of Burrunjor comes from a much earlier account by ranchers, which offers a similar story. In 1957, ranchers near the McArthur River in the Northern Territory reported an unexpected sighting.
Almost 50 cattle seemed perplexed and started running towards a nearby river, and ranchers heard loud grunting noises as they fled the scene. Some of the witnesses have reported seeing the silhouette of a giant monster running away toward the scrubland nearby.
The following morning, the ranchers discovered the mutilated bodies of several cattle, some of them half-eaten. Based on the injuries found on the livestock, the reports from the 1950s and 1980s are the same: whatever killed these cows, it was large, powerful and aggressive.
The possibility of a dinosaur existing in today’s times definitely seems exhilarating as well as horrifying. Most of us know what happened when John Hammond tried to create a park for dinosaurs in the Jurassic Park movie series.
But most of you will be dismissive of such stories, isolated tales without corroborating witnesses which turn up regularly, the only variation being the appearance of the monster. But there are some interesting aspects of the Burrunjor which may give you pause.
For starters, Australia with its vast uninhabited territories seems like the most likely place for survival of dinosaurs. When dinosaurs were wiped out 65 million years ago, Australia was closer to the South Pole and its inhabitants may have been able to survive the ice age brought on by the meteor better than those in more temperate climates.
On top of it, while it is unlikely that modern science could miss a dinaosaur, Australia is about as unknown a landmass as there is left: if it is anywhere, it is here. Most important of all, the reports regarding the Burrunjor are surprisingly consistent, unlike the accounts of Bigfoot, the Loch Ness monster or the Yeti.
The enormous crocodile population in Australia also serves as the ideal food resource for a colossal apex predator. And, while there are periods during which there are a rash of sightings, reports of Burrunjors have come in consistently over the years, implying this is a creature which tries to avoid humans but which cannot entirely stay hidden, which would be the case if Burrunjor is real.
A team of investigators scoured the northwest region of Australia in 2007 to identify any signs of the prehistoric dinosaur-like creature. To the disappointment of the crew, they never discovered any footprint to prove a Burrunjor sighting.
On the other hand, a large monitor lizard species inhabiting the region, the Perentie, might be the actual culprit behind the Burrunjor myth. At the same time, it is impossible to deny years of historical accounts which have maintained consistent explanations about a mysterious dinosaur-like creature.
Top Image: Depictions of the Burrunjor both ancient and modern are remarkably consistent, portraying it as a large bipedal predator. Source: Oleg / Adobe Stock.
By Bipin Dimri