The current estimates of the number of species on Earth vary between 5.3 million to one trillion. Anything from tiny insects found within the Amazonian rainforest to the massive blue whales that roams through the waters. It sounds like our planet’s ecosystems are varied and not connected in any way, but when we take a closer look, odd relationships appear.
We want to provide you with some surprising family trees, linking animals that appear entirely different at first sight.
Cows And Whales
Imagine how difficult you would have to access your daily bowl of cereal if the primary source of the milk was whales. That sounds like a lot of nonsense; however, you’ll be shocked to discover that it isn’t true.
Whales and cows have the same ancestor — a tiny mammal with slender legs and hooves who lived in the southern part of Asia known as Indohyus (meaning “India’s the pig”). Although these animals (more significant than domestic cats or raccoons) were mostly land-based, they shared a unique relationship with nearby rivers. Evidence suggests Indohyus utilized the water as a refuge from predators. However, the formation of the behavior of feeding on aquatics occurred quite a while later.
The most convincing evidence that whales and cows are “cousins” originates from the molecular analysis of the two. It turns out that the closest living relatives of whales are hoofed animals known as artiodactyls. This group includes pigs, cows, hippos, and giraffes. It sounds like the gatherings of families in these groups during the holidays could be somewhat uncomfortable.
Humans and Kangaroos
Or a kangaroo against a kangaroo during an athletic contest. Which one is the winner? Not to be an indicator of bad news, but kangaroos can run at speeds as high as 44mph. Usain Bolt’s speed record of 27.78 mph (and we’re not assuming anything that you do not have the speed of Usain Bolt). Therefore, can you say that kangaroos are built differently from humans?
Not if we talk about our genomes. The DNA of kangaroos and humans share certain undisputed similarities.
Despite diverging from our evolutionary journey, Kangaroos have the same sentiment as their cousins from the distant past humans. Research suggests that kangaroos attempt to communicate with human beings and request assistance by “pointing” in various directions. This behavior is also observed in domestic animals, such as dogs.
Elephants and Manatees
Manatees are sometimes referred to as sea cows, but that’s not the case. They’re “clearly” more than “sea elephants.” You don’t quite see it? Let’s look deeper.
It is discovered it is the case that Proboscideans (a category of mammals that includes elephants, mammoths, and mastodons) share an ancestor in common with manatees. Despite our understanding of the evolution of sea cows with significant gaps in their genome, it is believed that the animals referred to as Proboscideans descend from a four-legged mammal (early forms first appeared about 55 million years ago).
Manatees and elephants share certain similarities in appearance (a huge trunk obviously isn’t an example). Their bodies are covered in bristle hair like those of manatees. Manatees use hairs to help them find their surroundings (by hearing the vibrations).
Coral and Jellyfish
One wanders around the seas and oceans without restriction, and the other imagines it is more like an animal (holding the ground at one location). However, the reality is that coral and jellyfish are both mammals. And yes, they’re also closely related.
They are part of an ancient species of animal known as Cnidarians. Cnidarians do not have organs like lungs or the heart. They do not have any brains. But instead, they have an encasement of nerves that covers the body. Jellyfish and corals use similar methods to attack and defend. They make use of their tentacles to sting the swimmers nearby.
Although they are “cousins,” the relationship between the two species isn’t always rainbows and sunshine. Sometimes, corals join forces to fight together against their more mobile jellyfish family members. If the jelly is too close to the coral reef, a few corals will grab their prey using their tiny tentacles and hold it tight. Other corals soon join in the fun, completely engulfing the jellyfish.
Birds and Dinosaurs
Which was first, either the egg or chicken? It turns out the truth could be the dinosaurs!
The birds that you observe flapping their wings are descendants of theropods (group of two-legged dinosaurs like the cunning velociraptors and the Tyrannosaurus Rex, the most famous of dinosaurs). But the entire transformation from T-rex into a fluffy yellow chick did not happen overnight.
Fossils continue to appear, providing the world with “transitional” kinds. In 2018, Chinese paleontologists discovered the 127 million-year-old Jinguofortis perplexes. This discovery identified a crucial point in the evolution of flying — that is when birds lost their dinosaur tail but didn’t have the feathered fan found in modern birds’ tails.
Echidnas and Platypus
Is that an animal that has eggs? Yes, look at these two peculiar creatures (closely related to one another).
The platypus and the echidna form part of a group of mammals known as monotremes. While they share many genetic affinities, they drastically differ in many ways. For instance, the echidna consumes insects, such as termites and ants, while the platypus is a carnivore.
A lot of the significant differences are also evident. You must take a closer look at the echidna — it has a long, slim nose that is perfect for smelling delicious insects. As for the platypus’ the soft, duck-like bill is filled with thousands of receptors and serves as a detector for hunting down prey.
Horseshoe Crabs and Spiders
Horseshoe crabs are a legend that dates back a long time ago. They’re known as “living fossils” and are over 4 million years old and are therefore more ancient than dinosaurs. But don’t let their name mislead you. Horseshoe crabs are part of a group known as Chelicerata (including scorpions, spiders, and scorpions).
The primordial animals have a variety of peculiar characteristics. For instance, despite having poor eyesight, the eyes of these creatures are millions of times more sensitive at night as opposed to during the daytime. The most exciting thing concerning the blue blood of these creatures is that it’s. It is a source of powerful immune cells that are extremely sensitive to harmful bacteria. If bacteria are present and the immune cells are gathered around them, the horseshoe crab remains without injury.
Rhinos And Horses
How absurd would it look if the hero from the fairytales emerged on the back of a snowy rhino? Despite how ridiculous that might sound, rhinos and horses are in the same family, known as Odd-toed Ungulate (Perissodactyla), and share a common ancestor, a commander.
Fossils belonging to animals known as cambaytherium thewissi were discovered sometime earlier within India. With its traits similar to those of a tapir, the theory is that the creature is closely related to the living species of perissodactyls.
An interesting fact about the animals within this category is that they utilize the middle toe to support their weight. In some extreme situations, like today’s horses, the other toes have been joined to the middle toe, allowing horses to cover greater distances and run at more incredible speed.