Why is the koala not really a bear

Not all bears are the same

Bears in the narrower sense are only the big bears: Scientists found that the families of raccoons and kitties separated from the big bears in the course of their development around 30 million years ago.

The great bear family - consisting of eight species - is divided into three subfamilies: Both the great panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) and the spectacled bear (Tremarctos ornatus) differ in appearance and genetic makeup from the other great bears, so that they each have their own subfamily form.

The third subfamily, the so-called "real bears" (genus Ursus), is the most widespread today and consists of six species: brown bear (Ursus arctos), polar bear (Ursus maritimus), collar bear (Ursus thibetanus), black bear (Ursus americanus) ), Sloth bear (Ursus ursinus) and sun bear (Ursus malayanus).

Koalas & Co

But what about anteaters, koala bears, fur seals and bear moth? These "bears" call themselves that, but aren't. Only the fur seal is related to the bears, since both belong to the predators and presumably have a common ancestor. Fur seals are ear seals.

Like the kangaroo, koala or pouch bears are marsupials and apart from their bear-like appearance, they don't have much in common with actual bears. You live in Australia, a continent where bears are completely absent. The tree climbers feed exclusively on eucalyptus leaves.

The anteater, with its long, tubular snout, is not a bear either. Together with the belted sloths and sloths, it belongs to the so-called "toothless animals": its jaws are completely toothless. However, the anteater shares a predilection for ants with some "real" bears.

Bear moths are butterflies and got their name from the furry caterpillars with thick tufts of hair. They include the brown bear and the black bear - not to be confused with "brown bear" or "black bear", because these are the real ones!

Author: Susanne Wagner