The marsupial tapir is a cryptid reported from the rainforests of Queensland's Cape York Peninsula, in Australia. They are described as large, quadrupedal animals with trunk-like snouts, reminiscent of the Late Pleistocene Palorchestes. Palorchestes itself is also a popular identity proposed for the devil pig of Papua New Guinea.
Sightings uniformly describe this cryptid as a quadruped around one metre (3'2'') in height, with black hair and, most notably, a small flexible proboscis or proboscis-like extension of the snout. One sighting describes very thick limbs, another rounded shoulders. It is a browsing animal observed to feed on the young shoots of hopbushes (Dodonaea viscosa), and is described as making unusual, squealing vocalisations. According to alleged eyewitness Ray Stockham, it moved down into the rainforest lowlands near Portland Roads just before the rainy season each year. Over the course of five years, Stockham only ever saw one individual, though another sighting reported by a different eyewitness featured two animals seen together.
Ray Westrap told Gary Opit on 25 September 2013 that he had encountered two similar animals along a dry river bed near Currabeena, in North Queensland. He was hunting wild pigs when he observed two large, unfamiliar animals running towards him; not wanting to kill them, he fired above their heads, prompting them to turn and run back up the creek, squealing. Westrap described the animals as almost as large as cattle, with black hair, "prehensile elongated noses like short trunks," and thick legs. He thought they resembled an illustration of Diprotodon which he saw some years later.
A Portland Roads local named Ray Stockham claimed to have seen this cryptid on several occasions between 1986 and 1992, once or twice a year for five years. The animal, always alone, appeared each year not long before the rainy season, and was only seen during dry weather; Stockham would observe it from cover as it walked down from the Goddard Hills, north of the Pascoe River, to browse on the young shoots of hopbushes with its proboscis. He described it as a metre in height, quadrupedal with rounded shoulders, black-haired, and sporting a "a small, short, prehensile trunk on its snout".
~2001 & 2004
In 2001, a local of the Pascoe River named Harry claimed to have seen a metre high, black-haired animal with a small trunk while walking through the rainforest near the Pascoe. In 2004, it was claimed that another local had seen a similar animal, described as black-haired, a metre high, and with hindquarters like those of a wombat, north of the Pascoe.
Opit compares these cryptids to both Diprotodon and Palorchestes, which existed in Australia, especially in Queensland and New South Wales, until 40,000 years ago. Both of these animals have been associated with other Australasian cryptids: Palorchestes is a popular identity for the devil pig of Papua New Guinea, and is believed by Opit to be a possibe explanation for the long-necked bunyip; while surviving or lingerling Diprotodon have been cited as possible explanations for a variety of cryptids including the gyedarra, giant wombat, giant rabbit, and dog-faced bunyip.
Notes and references
- "Citizen Science and Cryptozoology: Data Received From Listeners During 18 Years of Wildlife Talkback on ABC North Coast New South Wales Local Radio," Australian Zoologist Vol. 38, No. 3 (2017)
- Shuker, Karl P. N. (2016) Still In Search Of Prehistoric Survivors: The Creatures That Time Forgot?, Coachwhip Publications, ISBN 978-1616463908
- Opit, Gary "The Bunyip," Myths & Monsters 2001 Conference Papers (2001)