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Monday, May 28, 2012

Only a few mammals have fingerprints – us humans, primates and koalas. Koala fingerprints are so similar to human fingerprints that even with an electron microscope, it’s quite difficult to tell them apart. What’s amazing is that koala prints  seem to have evolved independently. On the evolutionary tree of life, primates and modern koalas’ marsupial ancestors branched apart 70 million years ago.It is believed that koala finger prints developed more recently because most of its close relatives (like wombats and kangaroos) lack them. It is thought that the reason why we have fingerprints is for grasping. Henneberg, Lambert and Leigh explain that fingerprints are “a biomechanical adaptation to grasping which produces multidirectional mechanical influences on the skin.”

 

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