Australia's Megafauna
A web-based activity exploring the diversity of the Australian megafauna and its extinction

Introduction | Task | Process and Resources | Conclusion | HyperText Dictionary


Mega + Fauna = Big + Animals

What is meant by the Australian megafauna? Does megafauna refer to dinosaurs and other giant reptiles that might have roamed the Australian continent millions of years ago? Was Australia inhabitated by huge animals similar to those found in La Brea, California? Did mammoths roam the Australian bush before the arrival of humans in Australia?

In this activity, you will investigate the animals that make up the Australian megafauna, how and why they are different to large animals found elsewhere in the world and what might have caused their extinction.


Your task is to answer a number of questions about the Australian megafauna by accessing web sites that have been identified as providing most of the necessary information. Some of the questions may need you to think about the information you have found to provide the answer.

However, you may like to research the topic yourself by finding additional web sites, using software or books that you find in the library. Books or articles written by the following people should be the most helpful: Michael Archer, Mary White, Stephen Wroe, Tim Flannery, Tom Rich and Pat Vickers-Rich. Ask your teacher or librarian if there is a copy of the CD-ROM "Tales from the Kangaroo's Crypt 4 Billion Years of Extraordinary Australia" that you can use in your research.

Your task is to use this information in the form of a poster, a PowerPoint presentation, a web site, a booklet or a display in order to inform other people about the Australian megafauna.

Make sure you keep details of the source of all the information used for a bibliography.

Process and resources

Access the web sites indicated below each question in order to construct answers to the following questions. It may not be necessary to access all the web sites. You may find an appropriate answer by visiting one site, however, you may find other resources such as photographs and sketches at some of the alternate web sites. You may find additional information, a different explanation or a different point of view, by visiting a number of the sites. Be sure to read all the questions before starting because you may find the answer to later questions in some of the web sites for earlier questions.

1. On a map of Australia, indicate and name locations that are significant in the study of the Australian megafauna.

2. Describe the following representatives of the Australian megafauna: Diprotodon, Zygomaturus, Procoptodon, Thylacoleo carnifex, Zaglossus hacketti, Dromornis stirtoni and Megalania prisca.

3. Describe four other animals (of your choice) that are part of the Australian megafauna.

4. Construct a simple timeline from the Cretaceous Period (approximately 150 million years ago) indicating animals that existing in Australia, climate, vegetation and location.

5. What is unique about the Australian megafauna? Compare the Australian megafauna with that of other continents.

6. Explain why the Australian megafauna was significantly different to that found on other continents.

7. Outline recent scientific research on the Australian megafauna and indicate how it is changing our ideas about the megafauna.

8. When did the megafauna die out in Australia? Outline current theories regarding the extinction of the Australian megafauna.


Australia is often referred to as being 'unique'. It is time to consolidate what you have discovered so that it can be presented to show how unique our megafauna was.

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Last Update: Monday, 30-Apr-2012 14:52:29 AEST