Strange Science: Kangaroos in Austria?

Popular t-shirt in Austria explaining "No Kangaroos in Austria"Kangaroos live in Australia, not Austria. But since 2015, there have been four incidents of kangaroos being spotted in Austria, far from their native lands.

Some of the kangaroos spotted in Austria have been pets that got loose. (Who knew that people in Austria kept kangaroos as pets?) And one of them came from a zoo.

The current kangaroo on the loose (which could be a wallaby, as no one has gotten a close look at it yet) is of “unknown origin” and has been eluding the police.

So while we here at¬†Mad Scientist Journal welcome our new Austrian kangaroo overlords, this column is about science, so here’s some kangaroo facts!

“Kangaroo” is a paraphyletic grouping, which means it includes any animals sharing the same common ancestor, with a few exceptions. Kangaroos are part of the¬†Macropodidae family, and the generic “kangaroo” refers to four different species: red, eastern grey, western grey, and antilopine kangaroos. Kangaroos are herbivores, but that doesn’t mean they’re all cute and cuddly–their kicks are quite powerful. However, there has only been one confirmed instance in which a kangaroo attack led to the death of a human. This doesn’t count vehicular incidents involving kangaroos, which have also led to the loss of human and kangaroo lives.

But the most important fact in this specific case is that kangaroos are indigenous to Australia. So it can be definitely said that the kangaroo (or wallaby) currently on the loose in Austria is not a native kangaroo.

Because as the t-shirt says, there are “No Kangaroos in Austria.”

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