Drop bears are commonly said to be unusually large, vicious, carnivorous marsupials related to koalas (although the koala is not a bear) that inhabit treetops and attack their prey by dropping onto their heads from above.[broken citation] They are an example of local lore intended to frighten and confuse outsiders and amuse locals, similar to the jackalope, hoop snake, wild haggis or snipe. Stories of attacks by the fictional animal are commonly told to scare tourists.
Various methods suggested to deter drop bear attacks include placing forks in the hair, having Vegemite or toothpaste spread behind the ears or in the armpits, urinating on oneself, and only speaking English in an Australian accent.[full citation needed]
The Australian Museum has a purportedly serious entry on drop bears in its catalogue of Australian fauna, classifying them as Thylarctos plummetus. The description says they are about the size of a very large dog, have coarse orange fur with dark mottling, have powerful forearms for climbing and attacking prey, and bite using broad powerful premolars rather than canines. Specifically it states that they weigh 120 kilograms (260 lb) and have a length of 130 centimetres (51 in). However, elsewhere, the museum acknowledges that this was not a serious entry[not verified in body], and was inspired by the "silly season". The Australian Museum also established a small display in the museum itself, exhibiting what it said may have been drop bear related artifacts.
In popular culture
Australian Geographic ran an article on its website on April Fools' Day 2013 claiming that researchers had found that drop bears were more likely to attack tourists than people with Australian accents. The article was based on a 2012 paper published in Australian Geographer, and despite referencing the Australian Museum entry on drop bears in several places, images included with the Australian Geographic article were sourced from Australian Geographer and did not match the Australian Museum's species description.
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- Habermann, Vince. NewsMail, 9 July 2011, "Koala to turn into the Drop Bear".
- Lee, Sally. Daily Mail Australia, 5 September 2014, "The mummy bear who thought she could fly: Koala overestimates her reach as she attempts HUGE leap with joey on her back".
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- Janssen, Volker (2012). "Indirect Tracking of Drop Bears Using GNSS Technology". Australian Geographer 43 (4): 445. doi:10.1080/00049182.2012.731307.
- Miller, John, The Lingo Dictionary: Of Favourite Australian Words and Phrases. p. 88. 2011.
- Canberra City News, "Spreading the Myth", 6 August 2003.
- "Animal species: Drop bear". Official site. Australian Museum. Retrieved 6 April 2013.
- Australian Museum - In the News Dec 2010 Describes the entry on Drop Bears as being inspired by "the 'silly season'".
- Middleton, Amy (1 April 2013). "Drop bears target tourists, study says". Official site. Australian Geographic. Archived from the original on 11 May 2013. Retrieved 6 April 2013.