Koala, Or Kangaroo Bear, a marsupial animal of the phalanger family and genus phascolarctos (De Blainville), the P. cinereus (Fisch.). The dental formula is: incisors 3/1- 3/1, canines 1/0-1/0, premolars 1/1 - 1/1, molars 4/4 - 4/4 =30; the posterior upper incisors and canines are small, and the crowns of the molars have four tubercles. The body is stout; the head moderate, with a very short facial portion and naked muffle; ears moderate and clothed with long hairs; eyes large and not protected by lashes; moustaches small and scanty. The toes of the fore feet are in two sets, one composed of the two inner (which are the shortest), and the other of the three outer, of which the central is the longest, and all have long, curved, and compressed claws; the two portions of the feet are slightly opposable; the first toe of the hind feet is very far back, large, and without a nail. The stomach is provided with a cardiac glandular apparatus, and the caecum is three times as long as the animal; the pouch is well developed; the tail is wanting.
The koala is about 2 ft. long, 10 or 11 in. high, with a girth of 18 in.; the limbs are powerful, and the large hands and feet admirably adapted for climbing trees; the fur is dense, soft, and woolly, of a general ashy gray color, inclining to brown; hinder part of back dirty yellowish white, under parts dirty white, and inside of hind limbs rusty brown. It inhabits New South Wales, where the natives hunt it for the flesh, pursuing it into the tops of the highest gum trees, in which it passes the day feeding on the tender shoots or sleeping; it descends the trees at night in search of roots, which it digs up with its powerful claws. On the ground it creeps slowly, and when climbing looks like a small bear; when angry it assumes a fierce look and utters a shrill cry. Koalas are found in pairs, and the mother carries her young one on her back when it has outgrown her pouch; they are very tenacious of life. The skull is remarkable for its oblong quadrate form, great width of nasal bones, length of zygomatic arches, auditory protuberances, and depth of rami of lower jaw.
Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus).