Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Why Are Koalas So Cute? Eucalyptus & Evolution, Baby

From Wired Magazine:
Modern koalas are known for their cuteness, nearly exclusive eucalyptus-leaf diet, and the unexpectedly weird noises they make.
By studying the skulls of koala predecessors that lived five to 24 million years ago in the Miocene, an Australian team argues that evolution reshaped the animals faces to enable them to eat the tough leaves while maintaining their specialized communication anatomy.
“The unique cranial configuration of the modern koala is therefore the result of accommodating their masticatory adaptations without compromising their auditory system,” write the researchers, led by Mike Archer, a paleontologist at the University of New South Wales, in a paper in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.
HT: My Tree

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