This article is from
Creation 30(2):35, March 2008

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Practical pouches


This is the pre-publication version which was subsequently revised to appear in Creation 30(2):35.
Photo www.sxc.hu PicDescription

Mother kangaroos, koalas, possums and wombats have a most practical pouch to carry their young. It works equally well for tree-dwelling marsupials (e.g. koalas and possums) as it does for the ground-dwellers (e.g. kangaroos, wombats and the marsupial mole).

Evolutionary theory says that these creatures had a common ancestor that had evolved a pouch. But which way did this supposed original pouch open? You see, in kangaroos and possums the pouch faces forwards but in wombats, marsupial moles and koalas it opens from the rear.

For the wombat and the marsupial mole, this makes very good design sense, as a forwards-opening pouch on burrowing creatures would soon fill with dirt (to the detriment of any occupants). For a kangaroo though, a downwards-opening pouch would be disastrous, as the downward force of each jump would expel junior! So it’s no accident that these various pouches all face the right way—they were designed that way.

But why should a koala have a rear-opening pouch while its fellow tree-dweller, the possum, has a forward-facing pouch?

Well, for one thing, possums are much more lively and nimble (stepping, even jumping, from branch to branch) than koalas, which move much more sedately (when they move at all). The strong sphincter muscle at the opening of the koala’s pouch is more than adequate to stop junior from falling out.1 It’s also possible that the Creator gave the koala a backwards-facing pouch to thwart man’s attempts to explain its origins by natural processes (evolution)—in line with Romans 1:20.2,3

And now the discovery of a most amazing feature of the koala’s pouch makes it even harder for evolutionists.

While kangaroo mothers lick their pouch clean in preparation for a new joey, it’s physically impossible for koala mothers, with their rear-opening pouch, to do that. But it turns out that prior to the birth of a koala, a remarkable self-cleaning mechanism kicks in. The crusty ‘wads of brown stuff’ evident in the pouch in the non-breeding season disappear as ‘the pouch becomes a completely different place’, according to Professor Elizabeth Deane of Macquarie University, Australia.4

‘It becomes glistening, pristine and almost translucent. You can go in and the back of it is almost see-through and you can see droplets of clear material on the pouch,’ she said. The secret to the pouch becoming squeaky-clean is in these clear droplets oozing into the pouch—the liquid contains powerful proteins, that kill microbes.5

And so the nursery is made nice and clean, ready for Baby Koala.

It stretches credulity to claim that such an incredible self-cleaning capability could have come about by trial and error. As every mother knows, a nursery does not get clean by itself!

Posted on homepage: 13 March 2007


  1. Koalas, 31 July 2006. Return to Text
  2. See Don Batten’s review of Walter Remine’s book The Biotic Message, Journal of Creation 11(3):292–298, 1997. Return to Text
  3. See also J.P. Holding, ‘Not to Be Used Again’: Homologous Structures and the Presumption of Originality as a Critical Value, 29 November 2006, demonstrating that similar structures would bring great honour to the Designer. Return to Text
  4. Salleh, A., Koala pouch may have its own bug buster, ABC Science Online, 31 July 2006. Return to Text
  5. Deane’s team of researchers is analysing koala pouch secretions prior to birth to identify which of the proteins are responsible for the antimicrobial action. Bobek, G., and Deane, E., Possible antimicrobial compounds from the pouch of the koala, Phascolarctos cinereus, Letters in Peptide Science 8(3–5):133–137, 2001. Return to Text