Anima-Toons: Koala Caper – Breaking Under

Could a team of Koalas be masterful drug lord criminals to put Breaking Bad Walter White and Jesse to shame? Well, no, that’s probably not in the cards for these daily 20 hour sleepers, but these animals could tamper with a real-life crime scene as koalas possess fingerprints similar to those of humans!

Just take a microscopic look at a koalas’ thumbprint and you’ll see similar loops, whorls, and arches to that of a human being’s. Scientists believe this is an example of convergent evolution (where unrelated species evolve similar abilities due to similar ecological pressures) and have used this case to investigate the true meaning behind why some animals might have detailed fingerprints in the first place.  

It’s believed that rigid fingerprints provide a stronger grip on items by helping direct and control the moisture released by our hands’ sweat glands that provides different amounts of traction based on wet or dry conditions. Scientists also believe intricate fingerprints help increase the sensitivity of our touch by amplifying the vibrations our hands make when moving across different surfaces that are used to understand the texture of what we’re touching. 

These two abilities give us humans an enhanced sense of touch and grip that few other animals possess, well a few including the koala! Koalas faced some similar ecological pressures of needing a good grip to climb eucalyptus trees and a sensitive touch to match their sensitive stomach that only eats eucalyptus leaves of a specific age. This is the believed reason why both koalas and humans evolved similar fingerprints even though we’re very very distantly related in the evolutionary world.

So while we sadly may never see the cursed Koala Walter White and Jesse in real life, just know that there’s an off chance that some Australian crime scene might have koala contamination and we’d never know!




Lindsay is a undergraduate Computational Media student at Georgia Tech. She loves reviewing the history of medicine and science and making connections to the present-day. In her free time, she loves drawing cartoons and painting.