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Create your own herd of extinct and imaginary animals from found and recycled materials.

How to make a diprotodon

A diprotodon made out of cardboard tubes and pipe-cleaners.

Did you know … Australia had dinosaurs? Today they are all extinct but they roamed around over 100 million years ago.

Can you imagine what Australia was like then? Skeletons have been found in the Queensland town of Muttaburra (and elsewhere) and this dinosaur became known as the muttaburrasaurus.

At the National Museum of Australia we have a large replica of the muttaburrasaurus in the Gandel Atrium.

A replica of a muttaburrasaurus skeleton.

Sadly, today many of Australias unique and special animals are endangered or extinct. You can find out about some of these at the Museum, including the thylacine and the muttaburrasaurus.

There are many ways you can try to help Australia’s animals to prevent them from disappearing today. Some suggestions are:

  • Contact one of your local conservation organisations to see how you can help.
  • Help plant trees or plants that support local animals and insects.
  • Become an ecowarrior and learn how to recycle so you can lessen your impact on the environment and help animals survive.
A diprotodon and a turtle made out of cardboard tubes and pipe-cleaners.

Create a herd of extinct animals

Look around your home for found and recycled materials and make your own thylacine, muttaburrasaurus, diprotodon or an animal on today’s endangered list. Or make up an imaginary animal that might have once existed.

Local Canberra artist Tom Buckland makes artwork out of recycled waste and reuses common materials. He calls himself a voracious bricolagist (this is an art term for constructing or creating art from found objects). Tom has created a muttaburrasaurus to help inspire you to make your own extinct animal at home.

Time to make and difficulty

Less than 40 minutes. Moderate — you may need an adult helper when using scissors or staplers.

A range of objects including: cardboard tubes, toothpicks, sticky tape, bottle tops, pipe-cleaners, coloured paper, glue, pencils and textas.

What you need

Recycled objects or anything you can find. For the muttaburrasauraus we used:

  • Cardboard tubes
  • Paddle Pop sticks
  • Toothpicks
  • Sticky tape/masking tape
  • Bottle tops
  • Pipe-cleaners or chenille stems
  • Something to make a slot for legs (an adult may need to help you with this)
  • Coloured paper for decoration
  • Glue to attach things such as eyes
  • Pencils or textas to decorate.
Three cupboard tubes joined together with sticky tape and pipe-cleaners.

Step 1: Decide on what animal you will make

Look online and research the muttaburrasaurus or other endangered animals.

Find images and learn a little about what you are making.

  • How big was it?
  • Where did it live?
  • What did the muttaburrasauraus eat?
  • What does it tell you about Australia's past?
Three cupboard tubes joined together with sticky tape and pipe-cleaners.

Step 2: Find your materials

Look around the house to see what you can use.

Step 3: Start making

These three tubes will make the body.

Body: Join the pieces together using a pipe-cleaner and sticky tape.

Limbs: Mark on the tube where you want the legs. Ask an adult to make a small hole where they go (with a screwdriver, scissors or a sharp object), then thread your pipe-cleaners through the holes.

Three cupboard tubes joined together with sticky tape and pipe-cleaners.


Add tubes and tape pipe-cleaners to make:

  • Legs — add 4 x tubes
  • Head — add 1 x tube
  • Tail — add 1 x tube.

You are almost getting to the decorating stage.

Before you do, bend the legs and, using the same technique, attach more tubes — one for a head and one or two more tubs for a tail.

A turtle made out of cardboard tubes and pipe-cleaners.

Step 4: Decorate

Be creative with your designto give your muttaburrasaurus (or other animal) some personality. You can add extra elements, like small toothpicks, more pipe-cleaners, and use collage or pens and pencils.

Don’t forget to to give your creature eyes.

We also made an endangered turtle.

Share your creation

Ask an adult if you can send a photo or video to

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