Animals & Wildlife Magazine

My First, My Last, My...koala?

By Frontiergap @FrontierGap

My first, my last, my...koala?

Have you ever wondered what noise a koala makes? A roar? A squeak? Or a g'day? Well researchers and many other people that live in, or have visited the wonderful land of Oz, know that they make a low grumbling noise. Intriguingly, the mechanism of how they create this sound has not been understood until now.
The low, grumbling, dulcet tones normally occur during mating season, perhaps recreating some Barry White magic for female koalas? Dr. Benjamin Charlton and his team from the University of Queensland, Australia have discovered how koalas produce an astonishingly ear deafening noise and a very low frequency for such a small marsupial. The loud noise has probably evolved during the process of sexual selection. This is because typically, the louder the noise generated by a male, the larger and fitter the male is.
The instrument from which koalas make this noise has been deciphered by using MRI scans and post mortem studies on the larynx (which houses the vocal chords). It was found that the larynx, which is normally located near the throat, has descended all the way to the 3rd and 4th cervical vertebrae. In addition to this, the muscle anchoring the larynx to the sternum was found to reach much deeper in the chest cavity than previously thought. This allows the larynx to be pulled down even further in the chest when making mating calls.
This anatomy has never been seen in marsupials before and causes loud, rumbling sounds to enter the voice box, which act like a large empty room, amplifying the call further. In fact, the noise they make is so deafening it is even louder then a bison! This makes any male koalas sound larger than they actually are, intimidating other males nearby and impressing female koalas and hence increasing their chances to mate.
The female koalas really can’t get enough of their love, babe.
Haley Dolton


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