Korkskrew Koala

Korkskrew Koala
Korkskrew Koala | Source

Alright, everybody, say hello to this big-eared fluffy specimen of Phascolarctos cinereus korkskrewvium, perched upon the chest-gland scented and urine marked trunk of his favorite eucalyptus tree in the back yard stand of a modest bungalow in a southern suburb of Wagga Wagga (pop. 57,202), New South Wales, Australia.

It is indeed lucky for this fellow that he’s not only so cute, but also that his finely spiraled cranial horn is so large, long and impressively twined. For while there have been local news reports of immature korkskrews of young males allegedly being taken every now and again by disturbingly over-imbibing suburbanite housewives for the purpose of uncorking that next avidly desired magnum of Chablis, this guy’s coily appendage is too grand for even the largest bottle, barrel, vat, cask or tun. So he appears quite safe for now at least.

The length and twistiness of this KK’s perpendicular prong is matched only by the length and twistiness of his intestines. Because it may take as long as 8 or 9 days for the fuzzy little guy to fully process and extract the meager nutrition from the eucalypt leaves upon which he perpetually grazes, he requires the ability to regurgitate and re-chew, as well as an exceedingly lengthy gut. And it’s all wound up inside that cute beige-y bulbous brown ball-like belly of his.

The rather rare Korkskrew Koala is but one of four subspecies of native Australian koala, the others being the Queensland Koala, the Victorian Koala and the (non-horned) New South Wales Koala. In fact, Sydney researchers have recently discovered that all species of koala have korkskrew horns, though it remains in the other three subspecies nothing more than a teeny, tiny, vestigial bump hidden beneath the head-hair of the male crown. (It may only make its appearance, upon close examination, as a mere nub on the pate of a koala gent of advanced years that happens to be of a lineage afflicted with male pattern baldness.)

One appendage of this furball that is clearly no such nub is his typical bifurcated penis — a feature he shares with almost every other marsupial. In effect, his distinctly male member is divide into two parallel shafts, each of which during mating season may nest within his female counterpart’s twin vaginas. (Now, there’s convergent evolution at work for you.)

This dude is quite content to laze away the day, pinned to his favorite tree, either munching merrily on leaves and stems, or snoozing more than your average house cat. (The meager nutrition of their diet makes these critters supernally somnolent.) It is unlikely that he will even exit his tree to seek water; he gets almost all he needs from leaves. In fact, most of the names given to the koala by the indigenous tribes of the Great Down Under over the centuries mean “no drink” in one dialect or another. These include pucawan, burrenbong, koolah, cullawine, karbor, colah, boorabee, banjorah, colo, koolawong, coola, bangaroo, and coolbun, as well as the decidedly less poetic tree-bear, monkey bear, koala bear, and ash-colored native bear (though the creature is a marsupial, unrelated to bears, with its closest relative being the wombat).

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