Koala survives car collision

Koala Bear Grylls

From the Australian Broadcasting Corporation today:

Bear Grylls‘ survives 100kph impact with car, gets wedged above vehicle’s bumper

By Malcolm Sutton and Brett Williamson

A koala has been affectionately dubbed “Bear Grylls” after it became wedged in the grille of a vehicle travelling 100 kilometres per hour in the Adelaide Hills.

The koala was hit on the South Eastern Freeway and remained stuck until the driver arrived home some ten kilometres down the road.

Driver Loren Davis said she hit the koala just after the Bridgewater exit heading to Mount Barker, where it was dark “with no street lights”.

“I didn’t see the koala until my headlights found it but I couldn’t change lanes because another car was there [on the inside lane].

“I slammed my brakes on but another car was behind me, so there was no choice but to hit the koala.”

Ms Davis said she pulled over after both cars had passed but could not see the koala in the dark.

“I drove home, feeling upset that I’d killed a koala.

“Once I got home and pulled into the garage I turned on the light to see the damage.

“I turned around, saw a koala and just screamed.”

Ms Davis said she thought the koala was dead and ran inside to tell her fiance and his son.

“When they called out and said, ‘he’s alive’, I was teary, thinking of this poor koala in the front of the car.”

Ms Davis said the koala seemed quite “with it” and growled every time they drew close.

They were able to push a blanket underneath its arm and the koala used it to pull himself out of the grille.

“We backed my car out and closed the garage door to let him rest in there. We didn’t want him to wander off until we’d seen he was okay.

“We’re calling him Bear Grylls.”

Michael ‘Bear’ Grylls is a British adventurer and television presenter with a knack for getting himself into dangerous situations and surviving unscathed.

CFS considered to remove the koala

Fauna Rescue of South Australia volunteer and koala hotline operator Don Bigham said the owners of the car talked about calling the Country Fire Service to remove the koala.

Because it would take him 40 minutes to get to the house, Mr Bigham suggested they call the Royal Automobile Association.

“But fairly quickly, the koala got out,” Mr Bigham said.

“They had closed the [car] garage when they got home, so they had it [contained].

“When I got there it was sitting on gym equipment with some obvious minor abrasions.”

The koala was taken to a vet where x-rays and a further examination was undertaken.

Despite the ordeal, the koala was mostly uninjured, suffering only abrasions.

“The koala has come home with us and probably in the next day or so it will be going back home,” Mr Bigham said.

Koalas are a regular occurrence on Adelaide Hills’ roads and often display a casual disregard for traffic conditions.

“They don’t behave in an extremely bright manner sometimes,” Mr Bigham said.

“They walk down the middle of the road, [even] sit on roads.”

This koala reminds me of this snowy owl.

Kangaroo pouch inside video

This video says about itself:

Inside a Kangaroo Pouch – Smarter Every Day 139

31 July 2015

Do you know what the inside of a kangaroo pouch looks like? Here’s a video about exactly how I discovered the truth.

See also here.

And because you need a Friday pick-me-up, here’s a baby kangaroo cuddling a teddy bear.

Young sugar glider practices flying, video

This video says about itself:

20 June 2015

Sugar Glider Practices Flying in Front of Fan

From daily The Guardian in Britain today:

I couldn’t resist sharing this video with you: today’s “Caturday” video features an adorable young sugar glider (known as a “joey”) practicing her gliding skills in front of a fan.

The sugar glider, Petaurus breviceps, is a small forest-dwelling marsupial native to the northern and eastern parts of Australia. They also occur in forests throughout New Guinea and on a number of nearby islands and island archipelagoes.

They superficially resemble a squirrel, although they are smaller and much, much cuter: they have extremely soft, dense grey fur with a charcoal grey stripe along their spine, creamy white fur on their underparts, large black eyes adapted for night vision, a pink nose and toes, and small rotatable ears. They are sexually dimorphic, with females being smaller than the males, and lacking the scent gland on the forehead. Females give birth to one or two babies (“joeys”) which then reside in her marsupium (pouch) located on her belly, for several months. Male sugar gliders are unusual because they are one of the few mammal species that provide parental care. This video gives you an idea of their physical size:

The physical character that gives sugar gliders their name is the fur-covered flap of skin along their sides — this skin flap is easily visible in the previous video.

When sugar gliders extend their legs, this flap of skin stretches out, allowing them to glide through the air from tree to tree, sometimes for long distances when it’s breezy. Here’s another video that provides low-motion footage of gliding sugar gliders (ignore the cheesy music):

Sugar gliders are arboreal possums, and possess a long, furred and weakly prehensile tail that acts as a climbing aid as they move throughout the trees, seeking out insects, nectar, tree sap, and fruits to dine upon. Sugar gliders are highly active and are nocturnal and live in colonies consisting of several adults and their young of the year. Although they can “bark”, they are generally silent, and communicate primarily by using odours and behavioural signals. And cuteness.

Kangaroos are left-handed, new study

This 2014 video is called True Facts About Marsupials.

From Current Biology:

Parallel Emergence of True Handedness in the Evolution of Marsupials and Placentals

Andrey Giljov, Karina Karenina, Janeane Ingram, Yegor Malashichev


Bipedal macropod marsupials display population-level left-forelimb preference
•Lateralization in bipedal marsupials is consistent across multiple behaviors
•Bipedal marsupials show stronger manual lateralization than quadrupeds
•Species differences in lateralization are not explained by phylogenetic relations


Recent studies have demonstrated a close resemblance between some handedness patterns in great apes and humans [ 1–3 ]. Despite this, comparative systematic investigations of manual lateralization in non-primate mammals are very limited [ 4, 5 ]. Among mammals, robust population-level handedness is still considered to be a distinctive human trait [ 6, 7 ].

Nevertheless, the comprehensive understanding of handedness evolution in mammals cannot be achieved without considering the other large mammalian lineage, marsupials. This study was designed to investigate manual lateralization in non-primate mammals using the methodological approach applied in primate studies. Here we show that bipedal macropod marsupials display left-forelimb preference at the population level in a variety of behaviors in the wild. In eastern gray and red kangaroos, we found consistent manual lateralization across multiple behaviors. This result challenges the notion that in mammals the emergence of strong “true” handedness is a unique feature of primate evolution.

The robust lateralization in bipedal marsupials stands in contrast to the relatively weak forelimb preferences in marsupial quadrupeds, emphasizing the role of postural characteristics in the evolution of manual lateralization as previously suggested for primates [ 8–10 ]. Comparison of forelimb preferences in seven marsupial species leads to the conclusion that the interspecies differences in manual lateralization cannot be explained by phylogenetic relations, but rather are shaped by ecological adaptations. Species’ postural characteristics, especially bipedality, are argued to be instrumental in the origin of handedness in mammals.

Published Online: June 18, 2015

Australian quokkas and plants, new study

This video from Australia is called Quokka with baby.

By Shannon Verhagen in Australia:

April 9, 2015

Mapping the future of Rottnest‘s furry friends

We all know Rottnest Island‘s iconic quokkas (Setonix brachyurus) love eating treats from tourists and poking around inside public buildings but local researchers have identified plant species on the island that the quokkas need for food and shelter.

The Murdoch University study identified eight plant species used for food and four used for shelter by the quokkas and mapped their extent and distribution using hyperspectral remote sensing data.

They collected fresh faecal samples from 210 quadrats across the islands’ twelve native vegetation types over a two week period in 2011 to conduct dietary analysis.

The study found a clear preference for Guichenotia ledifolia, a non-significant food source for Rottnest Island quokkas 50 years ago, which suggests compositional changes in island vegetation over time may have caused this species to be more dominant in the landscape.

Researcher Patricia Fleming says a history of grazing, fire and land clearing has altered Rottnest’s vegetation structure and composition and therefore the quokkas’ vegetation use.

“The diet of these animals is likely to have changed over the last 50 years and probably has shifted from that of over 200 years ago,” Ms Fleming says.

“The vegetation on the island has changed markedly over that time, largely due to anthropogenic influences.”

Quokkas were found to have a clear preference for Melaleuca lanceolata and Acacia rostellifera for shelter, highlighting the importance of dense, protective vegetation.

They used remotely sensed, hyperspectral airborne imagery to map the principal food and shelter species in order to determine the locations where the preferred species are evident and where the principal species overlap.

Ms Fleming says managing these key habitat locations is essential as the Rottnest Island population suffers severe seasonal crashes due to a lack of permanent water bodies and intense browsing pressure from other quokkas.

“There are definitely times of the year for example, at the end of summer when the first cold nights hit those that are in worst condition, that animals are likely to be physiologically stressed,” Ms Fleming says.

“The forest [on the mainland] has more resources and the animals can probably access a much greater area to obtain their requirements.”

“The Rottnest Island population is resource limited.”

“It is likely that loss of a key plant species will alter the carrying capacity of the island,” she says.

More information: “Spatial analysis of limiting resources on an island: diet and shelter use reveal sites of conservation importance for the Rottnest Island quokka.” Wildlife Research, 41(6), 510.

Snakebite antivenom discovery in American opossums

This video from the USA says about itself:

Virginia Opossum Family

12 July 2012

A short video clip of a Virginia Opossum family in wildlife rehabilitation at Evelyn’s Wildlife Refuge, Virginia Beach, VA. The mother Opossum came into care with an eye injury and front feet injuries.

From the East County Magazine in the USA:


By Miriam Raftery

April 5, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) – Opossums aren’t typically thought of as a powerhouse in the animal kingdom. The term “playing possum” after all refers to one way opossums react to predators –by playing dead. But it turns out that opossums have a peptide that gives them a natural immunity to snakebites and other toxins – and now scientists are working to harness it to create anti-venoms.

Scientists have isolated the peptide, and in lab tests with mice exposed to venom, those opossum peptides proved effective against Western diamondback rattlers and Russell’s vipers from Pakistan. The results offer hope that a universal antivenom could be developed to counter the poisonous effects of snakebites from multiple species, National Geographic reports.

That’s big news, since worldwide, about 421,000 poisonous snake bites occur each year, and 20,000 deaths result, according to International Society on Toxicology. Human testing is next on the horizon.

Moreover, Newswise reporters, scientists found they could reproduce the peptide from E-coli bacteria, meaning it can be replicated cheaply and easily—no opossums need to be harmed in the process. Unlike standard snakebite anti-venoms, this one has thus far produced no serious side effects such as wheezing, rash or rapid heartbeat.

The anti-venom may even prove effective against other forms of toxins, since opossums also have a natural resistance to poisonous scorpions and some forms of toxic plants as well.

The results were presented in late March at the National Meeting and Exposition of the American Chemical Society in Denver.

The opossum, which resembles a large rat, is a marsupial tracing its origins back 65 million years, around the time dinosaurs went extinct. But only now have we learned a key secret to its survival against threats that kill many other animals.

So the next time you see a lowly opossum hanging by its tail from a fence or waddling across a road, remember – this ancient animal just may hold the key to saving your life if you’re ever bitten by a snake.

DNA extracted from 40,000 year old giant kangaroos

This video is called When did Marsupial and Placental Mammals split?

From Wildlife Extra:

Scientists extract DNA from 40,000 year old giant kangaroos

The study of DNA reveals that the red kangaroo was a close relative of the extinct giant wallaby

A team of scientists led by Dr Bastien Llamas and Professor Alan Cooper from the University of Adelaide‘s Australian Centre for Ancient DNA (ACAD) have succeeded in extracting DNA sequences from two extinct Australian species: a giant short-faced kangaroo (Simosthenurus occidentalis) and a giant wallaby (Protemnodon anak).

These specimens died around 45,000 years ago and their remains were discovered in a cold and dry cave in Tasmania.

Relatively good preservation conditions in the cave allowed enough short pieces of DNA to survive so researchers could reconstruct partial “mitochondrial genomes” ─ genetic material transmitted from mother to offspring and widely used to infer evolutionary relationships.

“The ancient DNA reveals that extinct giant wallabies are very close relatives of large living kangaroos, such as the red and western grey kangaroos,” says lead author Dr Bastien Llamas, ACAD senior research associate.

“Their skeletons had suggested they were quite primitive macropods, a group that includes kangaroos, wallabies, pademelons and quokkas, but now we can place giant wallaby much higher up the kangaroo family tree.”

The research has also confirmed that short-faced kangaroos are a highly distinct lineage of macropods, which had been predicted on their unusual anatomy.

Although the ancient DNA confirms that the short-faced kangaroos left no descendants, it also shows their closest living cousin could be the banded hare-wallaby (Lagostrophus fasciatus), which is now restricted to small isolated islands off the coast of Western Australia.

“Our results suggest the banded hare-wallaby is the last living representative of a previously diverse lineage of kangaroos,” says co-author Professor Mike Lee of the South Australian Museum and the University’s School of Biological Sciences.

“It will hopefully further encourage and justify conservation efforts for this endangered species.”