Museums Worcestershire not only cares for the remains of giant Ice Age animals from our county but also those from around the world.
One of the earliest additions to Worcester City’s natural history collections is recorded in June 1848; a number of fossils mostly jawbones with teeth from Australia brought over by Mr Hughes. Henry Hughes with his associates, the Isaac brothers, travelled from their native Worcester to Sydney around 1839 and then on to the grasslands of Darling Downs in Queensland where they became some of the very first ‘squatters’ in that area during a tumultuous period in Australia’s history.
The fossilised Australian bones in the Worcester collection were analysed and identified by Richard Owen. Owen was at the forefront of the study of natural science in the nineteenth century and he is best known for both coining the term ‘Dinosaur’ and as the founder of London’s Natural History Museum.
In 1838 Owen drew and published one of these fossils as the first example of its type; part of the jaw and teeth of the Diptrodon, the Giant Australian Wombat. The Diptrodon was the first fossil mammal to be identified from Australia and to have one of these original specimens in Worcester is very exciting.
The giant wombat was the largest marsupial that ever lived, weighing 2800 kilograms and growing to just under four metres in length and 1.7 metres to the shoulder. Until its extinction 25,000 years ago, it roamed the Ice Age woodland and scrublands and later, as the climate dried, the grasslands of Darling Downs.