Captain James Cook was the first European to describe the kangaroo and translate the aboriginal word into an English name. In his journal dated 4 August 1770, Cook wrote:
"Besides the Animal which I have before mentioned called by the natives Kangooroo or ^Kanguru
The Kangura are in the greatest number for we seldom went into the Country without seeing some."
Over time the spelling of the word was simplified to make it easier for English-speaking people to pronounce it. Hence its current spelling, "kangaroo". Sounds like "kang-guh-roo".
A male kangaroo is called a boomer
A female kangaroo is called a flyer
A baby kangaroo is called a joey
A group of kangaroos is called a mob
Folklore About the Name "Kangaroo" It's Not True
Popular legend has it that the first European explorers asked a local Australian aboriginal what the name of the hopping animal was. He replied, 'kangaru'. The explorers thought this was the animal's name, but actually, the aboriginal was merely saying, "I don’t know" or "I don't understand your question". This interpretation of how the name originated is false.
First Description of a Kangaroo by a European But He Didn't Name It
The first European to describe the strange hopping animals of Australia was the Dutch navigator Francois Pelsaert, while sailing off the western coast of Australia. In 1629 he wrote a detailed description of the Tammar Wallaby, a tiny member of the kangaroo family. But he didn't give these animals a name.
The first European to draw a kangaroo was Sydney Parkinson, who was an artist on the same ship as Captain Cook.
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