What animal has fingerprints extremely similar to humans?

Considering they are our relatives, it’s no surprise that chimpanzees and orangutans have fingerprints that are similar to ours. But someone completely unrelated to us also has fingerprints shockingly similar to ours – koalas! Apparently, this is what is called convergent evolution – “different species developing similar traits independently from each other. Well, as one report rightly worried, we can only hope investigators at a crime scene do not mistake a koala fingerprint for a human’s and set out on a hunt that can never have an ending!

In 1975 police took fingerprints from six chimpanzees and two orangutans housed at zoos in England. They weren’t just looking for a unique souvenir; they were testing to see if any unsolved crimes could be the fault of these banana-eating miscreants. While these primates ended up being as innocent as they seemed, the police did determine that their fingerprints were indistinguishable from a human’s without careful inspection.

A few years later, in 1996, a different type of mammal came under police suspicions: a koala! While it makes sense that orangutans and chimpanzees would have fingerprints like us, being some of our closest relatives, koalas are evolutionarily distant from humans. It turns out that fingerprints are an excellent example of convergent evolution, or different species developing similar traits independently from each other.

For koalas, it’s not really so different. They are incredibly picky eaters, showing strong preferences for eucalyptus leaves of a certain age. It seems that their fingerprints allow them to thoroughly inspect their food before they chow down. Police aren’t exactly worried about koala bank robbers, but it is possible that koala fingerprints could be found incidentally at a crime scene and be mistaken for a human’s, making it pretty difficult to find a match.

Credit : MC Gill

Picture Credit : Google  


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