Feb 25, 2015

Koala (not) Bears

Posted by AJ Blythe at Wednesday, February 25, 2015
I am currently reading a book that came highly recommended. I have to say, I'm really enjoying it - except for one, teeny, tiny, niggling point... koala's aren't bears!

In the book the author makes a reference to "koala bears". She did that many pages ago but I can't let it go. So please excuse my little lecture.

I know they look like real-life teddy bears, but they are just called koalas. I'm not being pedantic. They aren't called bears because they aren't bears.

Bears are mammals. They give birth to live young who have developed in-utero receiving nutrients via a placenta.

Koalas are marsupials. They give birth to live young who haven't received nutrients in-utero via a placenta. Instead the young are born much earlier than mammals (an earlier embryonic stage) and travel to a pouch where they attach themselves to a teat and remain there for weeks or months to complete their development.

Like I said, only a teeny point. But as an Australian reader it grated and pulled me from the story. Not helped by the fact I am also an environmental scientist, which is probably why I haven't been able to let it go.

I guess it just shows that readers will notice any error that slips through edits.

Has an incorrect fact in a book ever distracted you from the story?


Colin Smith on February 27, 2015 at 11:28 AM said...

I know at least in the UK, the term "koala bear" is used frequently without even a moment's consideration as to its accuracy. Indeed, Paul McCartney even wrote a song called "Ode to a Koala Bear." Perhaps it's because they look kind of bear-ish? Or maybe the fact you get cuddly koala toys that are cute and fluffy like teddy bears? All I know is growing up, that's what we called them: "koala bears." And even knowing that they aren't bears, I'll probably still call them koala bears out of habit. But I'll do better to catch myself from now on. Promise. :)

AJ Blythe on February 28, 2015 at 6:48 PM said...

Apologies if this appears twice, but I think my first attempt was eaten (maybe by a rogue bear?).

I'll forgive you the occasional 'bear', Colin, because I know you'll be trying to catch yourself from slipping ;)

Although it is interesting to discover the term is in common use overseas. I wonder what Aussies say that would make others cringe?

PS, I've tried to visit your site to read your Friday flash fiction but only get a blank screen for your website

Colin Smith on March 6, 2015 at 3:53 AM said...

I don't know of any Aussie terms that bother Brits. Or me, in particular. I find it amusing that many Americans can't tell the difference between an Aussie accent and an English one. I can't help but hear the difference! :)

My blog was down over the weekend. It's back up now.

Post a Comment


AJ Blythe's Cozies Copyright © 2010 Designed by Ipietoon Blogger Template Sponsored by Online Shop Vector by Artshare