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Koalas don’t have falls

By David Butler Metaphor and language, Science and the world 17 Mar 2014

I was walking in the Adelaide Hills on Sunday, spotting koalas (This is a very relaxing thing to do – they just sit happily stoned in trees, in the most relaxed poses ever – its how I designed some of the neurodynamics tests years ago) when I tripped and fell over. My wife said ‘Have you had a fall”. I retorted quickly “No, I have just fallen over”.
I suddenly felt old. Even grammar can hurt!



  1. Yes, what we say about what has happened to another can prove to be extremely important. Perhaps taking the koala’s lead and not posing would be best done immediately after the unexpected event. What would a koala do once fallen?

  2. I guess I’ll answer my own question. It wouldn’t leap up and pretend nothing had happened while hoping no one noticed.

    That’s what humans do – and we pay dearly for all the posing.

  3. davidbutler0noi

    Hi Barrett and readers,
    The koala is in some trouble – falling out of trees is probably the least of their worries – dogs, cars and most importantly loss of eucalypt forests have made them vulnerable. And I was wrong – they are not “stoned” – they just need to sleep for around 22 hours.

    I don’t know what koalas do when they fall – the web is not helpful and I have never seen one fall. I suspect (with hopefully no fractures, and if they weren’t dead to begin with) they get on with life as though nothing has happened. Something nearly impossible for a human.

    Life is a process and to me it’s better kept that way where possible without making too many independent entities along the way. (THE fall, THE back etc.) Maybe we should watch more koalas?


  4. I suspect watching any animal do something that would embarrass a human might teach us about enculturation and its effects. A dog in a show ring will behave quite differently than when out. It’s the handler that doesn’t. As Mark Twain (the US) said, “Man is the only animal that can blush – or needs to.” Does our behavior alter our movement and consequently our sense of pain?

    Of course.

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