A bellowing water monster from Aboriginal legend, believed to bring diseases. It lives at the bottom of the water holes, swamps, lakes and rivers of the Australian outback. The creature is roughly the size of a calf and requires calm water to live in. Unless its food sources are tampered with, the bunyip usually leaves human beings alone. However, if necessary it has the strength to pull a person down into the water and drown him.
The name comes from an Aboriginal word meaning "devil" or "spirit."
Science sees it rather as mis-recognized animals like seals, whose voices are mistaken for the cries of bitterns.
- Leach, Maria, ed. (1984). Funk & Wagnalls Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology, and Legend. New York: HarperCollins.