Present estimates for the number of species on the planet range between five million to one trillion. Everything from tiny insects found in the Amazon to the humongous blue whales swimming in the oceans. It would appear as if the habitats of the earth are diverse and apparently unrelated in any way. However, if we take a close look, there are extremely weird connections that would emerge. Here are some outrageous family trees, linking animals that appear completely different at first glance.
Cows & Whales
Consider the difficulty individuals would have with getting their morning cereal if the milk source was actually a whale. That seems to be very outlandish, however, individuals would be astonished to know that truth. Cows and whales apparently share a common ancestor. It is a tiny mammal that had slender legs and hooves that lived in southern parts of Asia. It was known as the Indohyus, meaning India’s pig. Although these mammals were mainly land dwellers, they had a special relationship with the rivers in close proximity. The evidence discovered revealed that Indohyus used the rivers as a safe zone from predators. The most propelling evidence for whales and cows being related derives from the examination of the two on a molecular level. It turns out that the closest living whale relatives are artiodactyls. These are hoofed animals that include giraffes, hippopotamus, pigs, and cows.
Elephants & Manatees
Manatees are often referred to as sea cows and this is not necessarily true. They are more like sea elephants. It turns out that a group of mammals including mastodons, mammoths, and elephants, known as Proboscideans, have an ancestral link with manatees. Manatees and elephants bear some physical similarities. Their bodies are covered with bristle-like hairs. The manatees use these hairs for sensing vibrations in their environment to orient themselves.
Coral & Jellyfish
One of these fancies itself to be a plant while the other roams the vast oceans freely. However, the truth is that coral and jellyfish are both animals. Plus, they are related. Each belongs to an ancient set of animals known as Cnidarians. Members of this set lack internal organs, such as the heart and lungs. Neither do they have a brain; they do have a net of nerves that encompasses their entire body. Coral and jellyfish have similar offensive weapons, they each use tentacles to sting unaware passersby. Although they are related, the coral sometimes teams up to attack their cousins. When a jellyfish swims too close to the coral reef, several of the coral will grab their prey. Others would then join in and completely trap the jellyfish.
Platypus & Echidnas
Mammals that lay eggs. These two unique creatures are very much related to each other. The platypus and the echidna are members of a family of mammals known as monotremes. Regardless of possessing numerous genetic similarities, they drastically differ in several ways. For instance, the platypus is carnivorous while the echidnas feed on insects such as termites and ants. Several of the key differences are also very obvious. The echidna sports a thin, long nose that is superb for sniffing out tasty insects. While the platypus has a soft duck-like bill. The bill is covered with thousands of receptors that aid in finding prey.
Horseshoe Crab & Spiders
Horseshoe crabs are referred to as living fossils. They are over 480 million years old, making them older than dinosaurs. However, do not let the name fool you. Horseshoe crabs are actually in a family known as Chelicerata, this includes scorpions and spiders. These creatures possess weird attributes. For instance, in spite of having relatively inferior eyesight, their eyes are extremely more sensitive to light during the night than during the day. The most unique attribute is that they possess blue blood. It consists of powerful immune cells which are extremely sensitive to toxic bacteria. When the bacteria is present, the immune cells surround them, ensuring that the horseshoe crab remains unharmed.
Rhinoceros & Horses
Rhinoceros and horses are members of a group of animals called Odd-toed ungulates and share common ancestors. Fossils of animals known as Cambaytherium thewissi were discovered in India. It had features close to a tapir and it is believed that this creature is linked to all living perissodactyls. The animals in this family primarily use their middle toe for balance and to support their weight. In present-day horses, all the other toes have merged into the middle toe. Their hooves permit them to cover longer distances and run faster.