koala

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koala

(kōä`lə), arboreal marsupialmarsupial
, member of the order Marsupialia, or pouched mammals. With the exception of the New World opossums and an obscure S American family (Caenolestidae), marsupials are now found only in Australia, Tasmania, New Guinea, and a few adjacent islands.
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, or pouched mammal, Phascolarctos cinereus, native to Australia. Although it is sometimes called koala bear, or Australian bear, and is somewhat bearlike in appearance, it is not related to true bears. Once abundant, it is now found in much-reduced numbers in Queensland, Victoria, and New South Wales. In the 21st cent. increasingly severe bushfires have become a threat to the species.

The koala has thick, grayish fur, a tailless body 2 to 2 1-2 ft (60–75 cm) long, a protuberant, curved, black nose, and large, furry ears. The five sharply clawed toes on each foot enable it to grasp and climb. A slow-moving, nocturnal animal, the koala has perhaps the most specialized diet of any living mammal; it feeds on leaves and shoots of a particular stage of maturation from particular species of eucalyptus. In addition to the vocal folds in the larynx, the koala has a pair of larger, thicker velar vocal folds (part of the soft palate) that are used to produce very low-pitched mating calls.

The single cub is about 3-4 in (1.9 cm) long at birth and is nursed in the mother's pouch, from which it emerges for the first time when about six months old. Until it is about eight months old it continues to ride in the pouch, and until about a year of age it is carried on its mother's back or in her arms.

The harmless and defenseless koala has been ruthlessly hunted, chiefly for fur but also for food; disease and the clearing of the eucalyptus forests have also taken a heavy toll. Protective measures have been adopted to prevent its extinction, but loss of habitat and disease have led to continuing population losses, especially in Queensland, and the koala is considered vulnerable in parts of its range.

The koala is classified in the phylum ChordataChordata
, phylum of animals having a notochord, or dorsal stiffening rod, as the chief internal skeletal support at some stage of their development. Most chordates are vertebrates (animals with backbones), but the phylum also includes some small marine invertebrate animals.
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, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Marsupialia, family Phalangeridae.

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koala

[kō′äl·ə]
(vertebrate zoology)
Phascolarctos cinereus. An arboreal marsupial mammal of the family Phalangeridae having large hairy ears, gray fir, and two clawed toes opposing three others on each limb.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

koala

, koala bear
a slow-moving Australian arboreal marsupial, Phascolarctus cinereus, having dense greyish fur and feeding on eucalyptus leaves and bark
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
After 24 hours of voting, koala joey Tallow from Paradise Country on the Gold Coast was named the winner, securing the most likes in the period.
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When not asleep a koala feeds on eucalyptus leaves, especially at night.
So it's not entirely surprising that a team at the Los Angeles Zoo diagnosed Quincy, a 3-year-old Queensland koala, with diabetes.
He is switching places with Toorie, Edinburgh Zoo's young male koala, who will be making the return flight to Dusseldorf next week.
However, the main problem facing the koala population is something much worse: deforestation.
"If it was proved that somebody did inflict injuries that caused the koala to die they will be charged with animal cruelty and possibly even worse under the criminal code," Beatty added.
Determine topic, text type Discussion of koalas--the children had been reading about koalas as part of an inquiry unit.
Biologists discovered that on hotter days, koalas were found with limbs fully stretched around the trees' trunks and lower branches.
Australia used to be home to millions of koalas. Now, scientists estimate that only about 250,000 are left.
"We have discovered that koalas possess an extra pair of vocal folds that are located outside the larynx, where the oral and nasal cavities connect," says Benjamin Charlton of the University of Sussex.