Koala

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The koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) is an arboreal herbivorous marsupial native to Australia, and the only extant representative of the family Phascolarctidae.

The koala is found in coastal regions of eastern and southern Australia, from Adelaide to the southern part of Cape York Peninsula. Populations also extend for considerable distances inland in regions with enough moisture to support suitable woodlands. The koalas of South Australia were largely exterminated during the early part of the 20th century, but the state has since been repopulated with Victorian stock. The koala is not found in Tasmania or Western Australia.

Contents

Names

The word koala comes from the Dharuk gula. Although the vowel /u/ was originally written in the Latin alphabet as "oo" (in spellings such as coola or koolah), it was changed to "oa" possibly due to an error.[3] The word is erroneously said to mean "doesn't drink".[3]

The scientific name of the koala's genus, Phascolarctos, is derived from Greek phaskolos "pouch" and arktos "bear". Its species name, cinereus, is Latin and means "ash-coloured".[4]

Although the koala is not a bear, English-speaking settlers from the late 18th century first called it koala bear due to its similarity in appearance to bears. Although taxonomically incorrect, the name koala bear is still in use today outside Australia[5] — its use is discouraged because of the inaccuracy in the name.[6][7][8][9][10] Other descriptive English names based on "bear" have included monkey bear, native bear, and tree-bear.[3]

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