Can You Tell These Very Similar Looking Animals Apart?


I’m sorry, but crocs and gators are the same to me.

  1. Technically, a tortoise IS a turtle – the latter is used as an umbrella term for the 200+ species of the Testudine order, which comprises species of turtles, tortoises, and terrapins. The main difference is that tortoises live on land and are not equipped for water, hence why they have feet and not flippers. Tortoises also tend to have domed shells whereas most turtles have streamlined shells for swimming.

  2. These mammals are pretty similar in temperament, intelligence, and habitat, but they do have some physical differences! For instance, dolphins are longer and leaner; they have an elongated snout, a large mouth, and a curved dorsal fin. Porpoises are generally more portly, with no beak, a smaller mouth, and a petite, triangular dorsal fin – some porpoises even have no fin at all!

  3. Seals and seal lions are both pinnipeds – a suborder which includes species of true seals, fur seals, sea lions, and walruses – but they do belong to different families and therefore have different physical traits. Sea lions are usually brown in colour, and can walk on land using their large flippers. They also have visible ears unlike true seals which just have ear holes. True seals (like the above) also have smaller flippers and tend to wriggle on their bellies on land. Fur seals are much closer to sea lions in appearance, but they have much thicker fur, are slightly smaller, and have shorter noses than sea lions.

  4. In fact, this is a scarlet tiger moth! Moths and butterflies both belong to an incredibly diverse order called Lepidoptera. They are very similar looking, and have a lot of overlapping physical traits; the only thing most scientists agree on which is different about them is their antennae. Butterflies have club-shaped antennae often with a bulbous tip, whereas most moths have feathery or tapered ones. Also, when resting, butterflies usually fold their wings together while moths rest them at their sides.

  5. Hares, or jackrabbits, are classified in the same family as rabbits but do have some key differences. They are generally larger and faster than rabbits, their feet are bigger, and they have slightly longer black-tipped ears. Hares raise their young above ground, thus they are born with fur and can run almost straight away. Newborn rabbits are born blind with no fur, so they are reared underground in burrows.

  6. In fact it’s a honey bee, which looks remarkably similar to the most common genera of wasps – yellowjackets and hornets. However, honeybees have a little coat of downy hair on their upper body and are more rounded in form, as opposed to the aerodynamic shape of the average predatory wasp.

  7. These two animals are actually wildly different. Anteaters are from the order pilosa also comprising of sloths, while aardvarks are the only living species within the order tubulidentata. The name anteater is sometimes colloquially applied to aardvarks due to their similar diet but aardvarks are quite unique, having a pig-like snout, long ears, and ever-growing cylindrical-shaped teeth. Meanwhile, anteaters are toothless, with an elongated skull, and a huge bushy tail.

  8. While it’s definitely tricky to tell these two animals apart, they do have some pretty straightforward differences. Mature llamas are much larger than their camelid cousins, they have tall, curved ears, and their faces are longer and mostly hairless. Alpacas have smushed, fluffy faces, and triangular, stumpy ears.

  9. Even though they are both crocodilians, crocodiles typically have a longer and narrower set of jaws that are V-shaped, whereas an as alligator’s snout is fatter and U-shaped. Another reliable indicator to tell the difference between these cousins is their teeth – a crocodile’s jaws are the same size, so their bottom teeth visibly stick up and slot into their upper jaw when shut. For alligators, their upper jaw is wider than the lower one, so when they close their mouths, their bottom teeth are hidden.

  10. These speckled big cats are damn near impossible to separate visually, but there are certain distinctions to be made. Apart from inhabiting completely different continents, jaguars are actually larger and more bulky than leopards, they have shorter tails, and perhaps most importantly they have smaller spots inside the black rings on their fur.

  11. The infamous honey badger and the wolverine belong to the same family of mustelidae (weasels) and are the only extant species of their respective kinds, but they are easily distinguishable. Wolverines are slightly bigger with visible ears and a passing resemblance to bears, whereas the honey badger has rudimentary ears holes and a flat black body with a broad, defined white stripe down the length of it – although some subspecies lack this distinct marking.

  12. Though both are macropods (a taxonomic family of marsupials) and indigenous to Australasia, a wallaby differs from a kangaroo in that it is much smaller. Within the macropodidae family, a kangaroo is any of the four largest species (measuring up to 2 metres tall), and a wallaby is an umbrella term that pretty much covers everything else including pademelons and quokkas but not wallaroos. An agile wallaby, like the above, will only grow to a max of 80 cm.

  13. If you thought these names were synonymous with each other, you’d be dead wrong! These nocturnal rodents are often kept as pets around the world, but hamsters are actually closer in relation to voles and lemmings, while gerbils are more similar to mice and rats. You can tell them apart by the fact that hamsters are more stout-bodied, as opposed to gerbils which are longer, with pointed noses, and a visible tail like a rat.

  14. Emus and ostriches both belong to the ratite group of flightless birds, but they’re actually from separate taxonomical orders and therefore vastly different. People are always mixing them up, but one key difference is that ostriches can reach up to 3 metres tall while emus top out at 2 metres. Another key distinction is that emus have three toes and ostriches only have two.

  15. This is actually an emerald tree boa. I’ll forgive if you got this wrong because these guys are super difficult to tell apart; in fact, pythons were once classified under the boidae (boa) family! Apart from living in mutually exclusive continents, boas have fewer bones in their head and fewer teeth than a python has. Pythons are also on average bigger than boas, but both animals are considered crude as they haven’t evolved much in a long time.

  16. The echidna is a wonderfully weird creature that is often conflated with its rodent doppelgänger the porcupine, but in truth they are utterly distinct creatures and the only superficial similarity is their spines. Echidnas are much smaller egg-laying mammals (monotremes) similar to the platypus – in fact these two are the only monotremes, all other mammals give birth to live young. Unlike the porcupine they are toothless, have no nipples, and the male echidnas even have a bizarre, four-headed penis!

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