The Legend of the Australian Drop Bear – Where Did It Come From?

Drop bears have historically been described as koala-like.
Drop bears have historically been described as koala-like.

If you’ve ever even only read about Australia, you’ve had to come across information about its abundance of strange-looking and dangerous creatures. Australia is known to be the home to some of the deadliest animals in the world. One of those animals is the giant and homicidally inclined koala known as the drop bear. Many cautionary tales are circulating the internet about this stealthy and unusually vicious marsupial that can grow up to be as large as an average leopard. In case you need more detailed information regarding this koala-like killer, be sure to read the rest of the article.

Australian Drop Bear and Its Characteristics

According to the information on the fauna catalog pages of the Australian Museum, this creature is classified as Thylarctos Plummetus. The legend states that the drop bear will not follow you around to take you down, quite the contrary, as it will leap down from a tree when you least expect it, land on your shoulders and kill you by biting on the neck or cracking the top of your skull using its gigantic fangs.

Said to be the size of a leopard during adulthood, the drop bear can be recognized by his wiry orange fur with irregular mottled patterns. Even though it does not have any canines, its wide premolars are strong enough to be used as the primary killing tool. The animal was also gifted with unusually strong, muscular forearms used to climb trees or hold onto the screeching human.

The forests of the Great Dividing Range in South-east Australia is said to be the home of these koala lookalikes, even though there are other reported viewings in other parts of Australia also. Their diet seems to consist predominantly of medium to large mammals.

Wait, Is This A Joke?

Yes, we’re happy to report that the stories around the existence of the drop bear are an urban legend kept alive by the fun-loving Aussies. Rest easy; there is no maniacal, huge koala dropping down from trees and devouring unsuspecting tourists.

However, it might be a little unsettling to find out that there does seem to be proof of an ancient animal that roamed Australia during the last Ice Age that closely resembles the description of the drop bear. Paleontologists have named it Thylacoleo carnifex, or the “marsupial lion.”

Despite the comparison with a lion, it seems that Thylacoleo carnifex didn’t have much in common with the appearance of the large cat. Its skull resembles that of a koala or a wombat with certain modifications. Instead of grinders, this carnivore instead had a set of shearing teeth in its place. Thylacoleo once belonged to diprotodonts, a group of marsupials, along with today’s koalas, possums, wombats, and kangaroos.

Scientists are reasonably convinced that humans living in the same period as Thylacoleo, must have come across the animal. Nonetheless, the stories of the modern-day drop bear did not surface until the beginning of the 1900s, which supports the fact that the stories of the deadly drop bear are not connected to the Ice Age animal that did exist.


More in Environment