110. Criminal Koalas

10 May

A murder attempt has taken place, no-one was harmed but a pistol was left at the scene. The pistol grip is dusted down and fingerprints are taken back to the lab. The results are put into the database and after 30 seconds of pained whining from the computer a perfect match comes up. 99.8% match, there is no doubt. The Inspector looks at who matches the prints and raise an eyebrow. ‘Odd’ they say, then they pick up the phone. A squad is sent to their attackers place of work, the zoo. After 15 minutes the officers return with the attacker in handcuffs.

It was a koala.

Fingerprints of a Koala and a Human

This hasn’t happened, not yet anyway. However it is possible. It is possible because we have evolved fingerprints, however Koalas also have fingerprints, in fact they have exactly the same fingerprints as humans.

This odd coincidence is in fact new feature for the Koala. So new is this evolutionary trait that almost no other marsupials have fingerprints. The Koalas simply evolved with them, for the same reason as us, a firm grip that just won’t slip.

They are so similar to our fingerprints  that experts with microscopes cannot tell the difference, they can only guess. Technically, all crimes could have been performed by Koalas, and instead we are arresting the closest matching human fingerprints. So how can we protect ourselves from the inevitable Koala crime spree?

The future of crime fighting

Simple really, we have a second set of prints which are also unique for each and every human being. Tongue prints. Were you to cover your tongue in ink and then press it upon a porous surface and you have one instant personal tongue print. Unfortunately criminals do not tend to lick crime scenes but I’m sure the police will find a way, they do love a challenge.

Regardless, keep an eye out. Koalas may be more of a threat than you think.

Further Reading:

Live Science: Koalas Have Human-like Fingerprints

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Posted by on May 10, 2011 in Articles, Trivia


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