Phascolarctos cinereus, the koala, is a member of the Diprodontia. This taxon encompasses a large range of sizes and shapes and includes wombats, possums, wallabies, and kangaroos. These seemingly diverse animals posses a number of characters that unite them together, such as diprotodont dentition (the two midlle incisors of the lower jaw are greatly enlarged and project forward), syndactyly (the second and third digits fo the hindfoot are joined by skin), fewer than three upper incisors, and selenodont dentition.
The koala is found only in Australia from southeastern Queensland to eastern New South Whales and Victoria to southeastern South Australia. Their fossil record extends back to the mid-Miocene, and they seem to have occupied a more extended range. The koala primarily is noctural and spends most of its time in eucalyptus trees. Its diet consists largely of eucalyptus leaves, but it may also eat mistletoe or box leaves. Until the early twentieth century, the koala was ubiquitous in southeastern Australia. Hunting and habitat destruction, however, seems to be the primary contributors to its decline. The IUCN currently lists the koala as near threatened.
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Images of Phascolarctos cinereus at CalPhotos.
Phascolarctos cinereus on the Animcal Diversity Web (Univ. of Michigan Museum of Zoology).