Koalas Have Fingerprints That Are Nearly Indistinguishable From Ours

Freder Via Getty Images
Freder Via Getty Images / Freder Via Getty Images

Have you ever considered committing a crime but weren't sure how you could get around the pesky issue of leaving fingerprints behind? You might be able to just frame a koala for it. We’re joking, of course, but scientists have found that these fuzzy marsupials have fingerprints that are difficult to distinguish from those of humans. One forensic scientist named Maciej Henneberg even went so far as to tell the Independent back in 1996 that the similarities could possibly confuse professionals in police departments.

While it may make sense for chimps and gorillas to have these kinds of similarities to humans, koalas are marsupials that share very little in common with us. As Gizmodo explains, mammals and marsupials split from a common ancestor over 125 million years ago. So how is it that these cuddly rage monsters have fingerprints at all? Well, it may come down to a little theory called convergent evolution, which is when distantly related species evolve to develop similar traits for similar needs.

According to Gizmodo, this could make sense for koalas who only eat eucalyptus leaves when they get to a certain ripeness. The sensitive grooves in their fingerprints would allow for them to feel if the leaves are the right texture before eating them, which is exactly how we, as humans, use our own fingerprints to feel the details in textures. Furthermore, like us, koalas can grip and use their fingers to control objects.

So, could you actually frame a koala for your crimes? Probably not. Computers have made identifying prints substantially easier over the years and would be able to detect a thing like, you know, a completely different species. And while the average person might not be able to tell the difference, according to ABC News Australia, fingerprint specialists can.