Koalas And Humans Have The Same Fingerprints

How should we say this... there's a chance that you could be framed for a crime committed by a koala. And no, this isn't fake news. In 1996, a team of anatomists at the University of Adelaide in Australia discovered that koalas have fingerprints, and they're so similar to those of humans that the two could easily be confused.

Within Their Grasp

If you compared human and koala fingerprints side-by-side, not even a microscope could tell them apart. Koalas aren't the only animals to share these identifying marks with humans — many primates have fingerprints, too — but unlike primates, koalas don't share an ancestor with humans. So how did their prints become so similar to ours?

According to Live Science, primates and modern koalas' ancestors are separated by 70 million years of evolution. That's a pretty long time to have such a striking similarity. But this commonality actually tells us a lot about the long-debated purpose of fingerprints in general: it's all about the grasp.

Can you tell the two fingerprints apart?

It's The Climb

It's believed that our ancestors climbed trees, much like modern koalas climb trees to grasp leaves for food. The 1996 paper explains that fingerprints are an adaptation for grasping, producing "mechanical influences on the skin. These forces must be precisely felt for fine control of movement and static pressures and hence require orderly organization of the skin surface." Humans, primates, and koalas all rely on grasping for survival. So, if you happen to be near a koala in the wrong place at the wrong time, you've been warned.

Watch And Learn: Our Favorite Videos About Fingerprints And DNA

Why Do We Have Fingerprints?

Even identical twins have a different separate set of fingerprints.

Using Your DNA As A Hard Drive

All of the data about what makes you you is stored on your DNA.

Key Facts In This Video

  1. Scientists have successfully stored all of Shakespeare's sonnets and other materials on a strand of DNA. 00:31

  2. DNA digital data storage would enable you to store the equivalent of 150,000 DVDs in a space the size of your pinkie finger. 01:42

  3. The average human body contains about a pound of DNA. 02:07

Written by Curiosity Staff January 26, 2017

Curiosity uses cookies to improve site performance, for analytics and for advertising. By continuing to use our site, you accept our use of cookies, our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.