What bird is that? Identifying a Probable Painting of Genyornis newtoni in Western Arnhem Land

01st December 2011

Gunn_etalAR_AA 73 Figure9

Common distrinctive traits between the painting and Genyornis (from Australian Archaeology 73:8).

ben Gunn, Ray Whear and Leigh Douglas

A large painting of an unusual emu-like bird was recorded in western Arnhem Land. The painting and its setting are described in relation to reported megafauna depictions in the region. Concordance with palaeontological evidence suggests that the painting was of Genyornis newtoni, one of the giant ‘thunder birds’ which some palaeontologists claim became extinct around 45,000 years ago. This image raises four particular questions: Is the painting 45,000+ years old? Did Genyornis survive in Western Arnhem Land until much more recently than the palaeontological record demonstrates? Did the collective memory of the painters retain the precise details of the extinct animal for many thousands of years? Or, is it an image of some imaginary bird/creation ancestor? It is concluded that the painting is most likely a representation of Genyornis newtoni but there is insufficient evidence to indicate any age for the painting.

Gunn, R.G., L.C. Douglas & R.L. Whear
What Bird is That? Identifying a Probable Painting of Genyornis newtoni in Western Arnhem Land
2011
73
1-12
Article
You must be a member to download the attachment ( Login / Sign up )