Fun Diprotodon Facts For Kids

Abhijeet Modi
Feb 20, 2024 By Abhijeet Modi
Originally Published on Sep 29, 2021
Edited by Katherine Cook
Fact-checked by Kidadl Team
Amazing Diprotodon facts that are informative and fun to learn.
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Age: 3-18
Read time: 8.3 Min

The Diprotodon, also known as a giant wombat, was a marsupial in the family Diprotodontidae. The type species is Diprotodon optatum named by Owen, dating back to 1838. A recent study suggests that it is the only species of the genus and also the most well-known of the megafauna (Price 2008). It became extinct about 44,000 years ago, probably due to hunting or climate change. Some fossils have been found in the salt lake where the mammals could have drowned in search of water. However, the modern wombat is a small, short-legged mammal with a length of no more than 3 ft (0.9 m).

Sometimes, the koala, the nephew of the giant wombat attacks the feet of humans when feeling threatened. It is a descendent of the giant wombat. The taxonomy of the giant wombat is as follows- Chordata,‭ ‬Mammalia,‭ ‬Marsupialia,‭ ‬Diprotodontia,‭ ‬Vombatiformes,‭ ‬and Diprotodontidae. The food of this giant wombat included vegetation. Diprotodons resembled bear animals in terms of their whole appearance.

If you enjoyed this article, you can also check out other interesting facts about Coelacanth and Brachytrachelopan.

Diprotodon Interesting Facts

Was the Diprotodon a dinosaur?

No, the Diprotodon was not a dinosaur. In fact, it was a marsupial that became extinct from the world several thousand years ago. Recent research based on teeth has found that there is just a single variable species of Diprotodon, Diprotodon optatum (Price 2008).

How do you pronounce 'Diprotodon'?

The Diprotodon pronunciation is 'dai-proh-tuh-dawn'. The Diprotodon meaning is 'two forward teeth'.

What type of prehistoric animal was a Diprotodon?

This giant wombat belonged to the genus of big marsupials endemic to Pleistocene Australia. It was one of the main species of megafauna which existed throughout the continent. Presently, it consists of only one species, D. optatum, the largest marsupial to have ever lived in the world. It was found by Owen, 1838.

In which geological period did the Diprotodon live?

The marsupial Diprotodon is an extinct mammal that existed in the Pleistocene Era, about 1.6 million years ago until extinction.

When did the Diprotodon become extinct?

The Diprotodon extinction occurred around 44,000 years ago, after the human settlement on the continent. However, the role of settlements and various factors related to climatic change in its extinction is doubtful and disputed. The young would have been prayed upon by the marsupial lion and Australian crocodile. During the initial time of settlements, they would have been killed by early Australian settlers.

Where did a Diprotodon live?

This giant wombat was a land mammal and its habitat range could be observed across region, in the continent of Australia. Many fossils have been found there including skulls, skeletons, and foot impressions. Many Aboriginal rock art paintings have been found in Quinkan traditional country (Queensland, Australia). Bushman George Ranken found a large fossil assemblage in New South Wales which was the first significant location of extinct Australian megafauna. The mammal is known from different sites such as Tambar Springs, Cuddie Springs, and Wellington Caves. The earliest remains of the giant wombat were derived from Lake Kanunka. The most complete Diprotodon skeletal system was found at Tambar Springs which was unearthed by Australian Diprotodon recreation museum paleontologists.

Australia is an enormous mainland and its still slightly ambiguous to its modern human inhabitants. Surprisingly, the remains of the giant wombat have been found across the entire length of the country from New South Wales to Queensland. The distribution range of giant wombats is the same as that of the modern eastern grey kangaroos. In one rib of the fossil, there is a tiny square hole, which was initially determined to have to be chiseled with a spear while the bone was still fresh. This is some evidence that humans probably hunted the giant wombat in the past.

What was a Diprotodon's habitat?

The Diprotodon habitat mainly consisted of woodlands, vine thickets, and scrublands. Many fossils of the giant wombat have been found in salt-covered lakes. This is evidence suggests that in the search of water, Diprotodons broke through the water surface and drowned. Excessive drought conditions might also be another reason behind this which also explains unusual discoveries of individuals of clustered young and aged herd members in one region. This mammal has also been found in coastal sites, such as Naracoorte caves and Kangaroo Island in Australia.

Who did a Diprotodon live with?

The Diprotodon might have lived with the early human settlers on the land of Australia. These human settlers would have been concentrated near the Australian shoreline which would have created random contact with the giant wombat. They quickly figured out that one giant wombat could feed a complete tribe for about seven days. It is assumed that the wombat would have started living in large herds as an adaptation to save themselves. However, marsupials are not the animals that form large groups. The great number of individuals discovered at Lake Callabonna might be smaller family groups gathered near dry wells.

How long did a Diprotodon live?

The lifespan of the giant wombat is unknown. Although, they lived about 2.6 million years ago to 11,700 years ago in Australia.

How did they reproduce?

Little information is available related to the reproduction techniques of these giant wombat mammals. They were sexually dimorphic animals and showed polygynous breeding in which males used to mate with several females.

Diprotodon Fun Facts

What did a Diprotodon look like?

The largest giant wombat specimens described were almost the same size as a hippopotamus, around 9.8 ft (3 m) long and 6.6 ft (2 m) tall. Their weight was estimated to be nearly the weight of a rhinoceros, 6,151 lb (2,790 kg). In the 19th century, paleontologists differentiated and named around six separate giant wombat species. The male and female fossils have different body sizes in some species. For instance, in D. optatum, the males were much larger than the females. The Diprotodon was a massive, large-bellied mammal. The Diprotodon skull was lightweight and filled with various air spaces. Some paleontologists think that it probably had a small trunk because of the retracted location of the nasal bones.

The Diprotodon wombat had two lower incisors directed forward and two upper incisors. Its name was derived from many words. They are 'di', meaning 'two', 'proto', meaning 'first', and 'odon', meaning 'tooth' which was widely used for eating. The mammal possessed four large molars per jaw, with two intersecting crests on each tooth. All the species had sturdy and pillar-like limbs. The osseins in the upper limb were much elongated than the osseinsin in the lower limb. Their feet were large and inturned, just like wombats. Diprotons were sexually dimorphic mammals and exhibited polygynous breeding which means males used to mate with multiple females in the breeding season. Some evidence of predation or scavenging by the marsupial lion of the Pleistocene age was discovered. The fossil consists of a forelimb bone or ulna from around Glen Innes, New South Wales. There are some deep, blade-like tooth impressions that match with Thylacoleo carnifex whose teeth were also discovered at the location.

Diprotodons had an upfront tooth.

How many bones did a Diprotodon have?

The exact number of bones in the Diprotodon skeleton is unknown.

How did they communicate?

Modern marsupials have a great hearing and sense of smell. These animals communicate with all noisy sounds such as screams, hisses, and growls. Therefore, it is assumed that Diprotodons would have communicated in the same way.

How big was a Diprotodon?

The Diprotodon size was 9.8 ft (3 m), which is five times larger than an hourglass dolphin.

How fast could a Diprotodon move?

The definite speed of a Diproton has not been discovered yet. It is believed that their speed may have been similar to that of wild boar.

How much did a Diprotodon weigh?

The average Diprotodon weight was around 6,151 lb (2,790 kg). They weighed 30 times more than Masai giraffes.

What were the male and female names of the species?

No specific names were given to male and female giant wombats.

What would you call a baby Diprotodon?

A giant wombat baby would be called a young.

What did they eat?

Pleistocene Australia was a type of heaven for big, non-violent, plant-munching marsupials, one of them was this giant wombat species. The Diprotodon animal would have been a usual consumer of all types of vegetation as food, ranging from salt bushes to leaves and grasses. This may explain the huge wombat's wide distribution on the continent of Australia as numerous populations survived to subsist on whatever plant matter was at hand.

How aggressive were they?

Giant wombat species were probably peaceful marsupials, just like the present ones. They probably have attacked humans just like modern marsupials like the koala that sometimes attack our feet.

Did you know...

The earliest human settlers of Australia killed and ate the giant Diprotodon, but it was an element of worship as well, just like humans of Europe worshipped and idolized woolly mammoths. Various rock paintings have been found in Queensland that may indicate giant wombat herds. This marsupial is probably the inspiration for the bunyip, a mythical beast, according to a few Aboriginal tribes that live in Australia even now.

How did the Diprotodon adapt to survive in the environment?

The Pleistocene habitat in Australia changed with climate change called the Pleistocene oscillation. During this period, dry and windy conditions were substituted with more stable conditions. As the ice was blocked in the polar regions, sea levels were much lower than they are today. Prolonged drought would have made most of the Australian uninhabitable. Hundreds of people were found in the center of Lake Callabonna in northern South Australia that was trapped in the mud when the lake bed dried up. In Queensland's Darling Hills, the Diproton habitat study found that as the climate turned dry, areas that were once covered by forests, vine bushes, and shrubs gave way to grasslands. One of the Diprotodon adaptations was that it moved in vast herds, otherwise marsupials are known to live alone or in pairs. A large number of Diprotodons discovered at Lake Callabonna was maybe smaller groups gathered in mass to the drying waterhole.

What makes the prehistoric beast called the Diprotodon unusual?

The giant wombat had a massive skull and very large nasal aperture which suggests that it had a big nose. This feature made this an unusual animal.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly prehistoric animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these Brontotherium facts and Hipparion facts for kids.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable Diprotodon coloring pages.

Main image by Dmitry Bogdanov

Fun Diprotodon Facts For Kids

How Much Did They Weigh?

6,151 lb (2,790 kg)

Skin Type

Fur

How Long Were They?

9.8 ft (3 m)

How Tall Were They?

6.6 ft (2 m)

Kingdom

Animalia

Class

Mammalia

Genus

Diprotodon

Family

Diprotodontidae

Scientific Name

Diprotodon optatum

What Were Their Main Threats?

Hunting and climate change
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Written by Abhijeet Modi

Master of Computer Science

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Abhijeet ModiMaster of Computer Science

An experienced and innovative entrepreneur and creative writer, Abhijeet holds a Bachelor's and Master's degree in Computer Application from Birla Institute of Technology, Jaipur. He co-founded an e-commerce website while developing his skills in content writing, making him an expert in creating blog posts, website content, product descriptions, landing pages, and editing articles. Passionate about pushing his limits, Abhijeet brings both technical expertise and creative flair to his work.

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