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This says so much to me…

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.”

We welcome your thoughts below.

Photo credit: Psycrow / Jody Neville Photography

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About Mark Gerada

Mark Gerada is an Australian artist, designer and teacher with a background in architecture, planning, publishing and advertising. As an architect, Mark challenges existing models of planning by promoting more efficient and sustainable uses of resources and land, and explores the possibility that urban environments could be denser and more self sufficient as a means of protecting existing tracts of bushland. His emphasis is on the communication of complex ideas in a succinct fashion and developing distinctive identities and branding for socially responsible campaigns. For more information, visit

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50 Responses to Fingerprints

  1. aoniks June 7, 2011 at 6:59 pm #

    Convergent evolutionary theory in full effect!

    This factoid always reminds me of Ricky Gervais’ bit in Animals describing the obsurdity of police having difficulty distinguishing human and koala fingerprints at a crime scene…

    • Johna May 29, 2012 at 5:32 am #

      Proof that evolution is a fraudulent theory:

      • Rob May 29, 2012 at 5:47 am #

        Convergent evolution. It’s obvious you don’t understand it so here’s a link (

      • Steven Bennett May 29, 2012 at 5:56 am #

        No, evolution is occurring right now. Read up on the history of agriculture for god’s sake. You can’t selectively choose which science you want to believe in. You have to understand that science has given you every modern convenience we have, microwave ovens, TVs, Internet, air travel. Please get a clue.

      • mrparker May 29, 2012 at 6:26 am #

        Reading that forum post made me want to kill myself. It was so dumb it actually removed my will to live temporarily.

      • bell May 29, 2012 at 8:00 am #

        That thread isn’t “proof” of anything, it’s just a bunch of dudes on a form calling eachother silly names…

      • Elliot May 29, 2012 at 10:50 am #

        Wow. Lol.

      • Doopla May 29, 2012 at 11:07 pm #

        What a clusterfuck of a posting. You can’t argue with fuckwits who willfully ignore the very science that keeps them alive everyday. The science that will ensure their wives survive childbirth and their children survive infancy. The science that grows enough crops so they don’t starve before they breed. It’s a shame they do breed because they put forth drivel like this and think it’s somehow intelligent.

        They think science is what demonstrates their geographically accidental birth religion is fake. They only focus on what destroys their sky daddy story and makes them look at real life without the god goggles. It scares the shit out of them. They don’t realise that variants of that discipline are what stops us dying from tooth decay before we’re 30. It provides us with more than anything religion has ever done in 10,000 years but only in the last 300. Religion can be destroyed purely by philosophical argument, you don’t even need a test tube. It was destroyed by the great greek philosophers 1000′s of years ago, what the fuck is it doing popping up as pseudo truth today!?

        People like this should either acknowledge the facts or shut the fuck up about things they have no clue about. There is no place for ignorance of this magnitude in the 21st century.

        Evolution is a fact, it’s corroborated across every single scientific discipline. It easily falsifiable yet no one has ever offered a single shred of evidence to the contrary. get your head out of the dark ages.

        God: Can do anything. Does nothing.

  2. PZ June 9, 2011 at 10:04 am #

    What an amazing image, I had no idea animals could have fingerprints. So human…

    • Mark Gerada June 10, 2011 at 3:59 pm #

      So human! Koalas have such a fine tuned sense of touch and feel. Apparently this, in conjunction with their fine tuned sense of smell, is helpful when they are choosing leaves. Koalas are very specific about what they will eat and what they won’t.

    • Anna May 29, 2012 at 4:18 am #

      But… you know that humans _are_ animals, right? Maybe humans are _so koala_.

      • justin May 29, 2012 at 4:23 am #

        thanks for pointing this out.

        human arrogance often causes people to forget that we’re just another species on a planet like all the others.

        • Andrew C. Holmes May 29, 2012 at 5:12 am #

          Couldn’t agree with you two more. Humans are just another animal.

          I also think it’s neat that evolution tends to evolve similar things over and over again (i.e. convergent evolution of fingerprints). It really demonstrates the beauty, simplicity, and complexity of nature, all at the same time.

          Party on koalas.

        • mrparker May 29, 2012 at 6:28 am #

          I don’t think it’s arrogance. If anything it’s evolutionary nature to consider your own species more important than another. I bet if koalas could speak they’d phrase it the same way.

  3. ralph May 29, 2012 at 5:11 am #

    Think of all the cases in prison that will get appealed because someone claimed a koala did it.

  4. Michael May 29, 2012 at 5:43 am #

    No, that looks like a 15 year old kid arguing about jack shit and getting his butt handed to him by more mature people.

  5. Johnb May 29, 2012 at 5:58 am #

    A forum of idiots yelling at each other does not constitute proof of anything.

  6. Ike May 29, 2012 at 6:22 am #

    How sad that people threatened by science have to come here to demonstrate their ignorance and fear.

    Evolution is a scientific theory, like gravity, that is well-grounded in abundant evidence.

    Creationism is a fraudulent fairy-tale that is not suitable for consumption by children (never mind grown-ups). In a world on the edge of environmental disaster, we can ill-afford such closed-minded and outdated quackery. It has no place in the modern world, and has no respect whatsoever from modern biologists (beyond the odd lunatic here or there).

    Johna, please take your nonsense elsewhere. You are not welcome here.

  7. R T Allwin May 29, 2012 at 6:45 am #

    Maybe science has been wrong all along, and we all evolved from Koalas? =D

    • Elliot May 29, 2012 at 10:52 am #

      That would be so awesome, except we con’t have pouches :(

  8. Johnass May 29, 2012 at 1:12 pm #

    Go back to posting Youtube comments, you closed-minded fundie imbecile.

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      Thanks for asking. That would be great if you quote and credit, and thanks for spreading the information.

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    This explains why the drop bear has been getting away with murdering unsuspecting tourists for a long time!!

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