Sir Pterry’s drop bears

There’s always an allusion to something in the more bizarre of Sir Pterry’s inventions. Perhaps a combination of vagule recalled weirdnesses from real life:

Australia is known for its strange and deadly wildlife, with plenty of attention given to venomous snakes and bird-eating spiders. But it seems one terrifying aspect of outback fauna has been thoroughly ignored: the wombat’s deadly bum.

The rump of the wombat is hard as rock, used for defence, burrowing, bonding, mating and possibly violently crushing the skulls of its enemies against the roof of its burrow. Although the jury is still out on that one.

The marsupials’ bums are made up of four plates fused together and surrounded by cartilage, fat, skin and fur. Alyce Swinbourne, an expert in wombat bottoms from the University of Adelaide, says wombats will use their backside to “plug” up their burrows, stopping predators entering and protecting softer areas of their anatomy.

Wombats don’t live in trees but koalas do. Combine the two and we have our drop bear.

10 thoughts on “Sir Pterry’s drop bears”

  1. I have never read a Pratchett book, so cannot comment on that factor, but is this one of those claims that rank with kung fu swans breaking peoples’ arms and giraffes going around kicking lions’ heads off. ?

  2. Koalas do have a bum/back plate to wedge themselves solid when they’re stoned off their arse on their food….

    They do like to be scratched there, and like a cat will arch their backs, making for a literal tourist trap… 😉

  3. Sadly drop bears aren’t actually a Pratchettian invention, he merely borrowed the idea from the Antipodeans. The idea seems to have been around in Oz since the 60/70s.

  4. Malicious beasts

    Many years ago, staying with a shire bylaws officer on Saturday night. “A local is complaning about wombats, lets go and shoot a few” (thay just walk though fences tearing down posts etc)

    So drive 30 miles to the place and find it’s covered in bracken. The only way to find one is stumble through the bracken till you fall over one. Give up but there is a pub on the way back so head for it.

    Hit a wombat, write off the council car and the wombat wanders off into the night. With all of that the pub was closed after we were found by a passer by (populated area)

  5. In the 1968 London to Sydney Marathon “Gelignite” Jack Murray delighted in warning international (that is non- Australian) competitors about the dangers of “drop bears”.

  6. Must admit I’ve never looked at a wombat’s arse. Those lovely long powerful claws made me decide that discretion was by far the better part of valor.

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