5. Civets and genets - These two groups of animals are quite possibly some of the most unknown animals that are around today. Members of the family Viverridae in the order Carnivora, if someone does in fact see one, they usually just assume that they are cats, dogs, or something else along those lines. The family that the viverrids are most closely related to are, in fact, the cats, but they are also related to they hyenas and the mongooses.
4. Maned Wolf - The maned wolf is neither a wolf, as its name implies, or a fox, as its outward appearance would indicate. It is related to both, and is in the family Canidae (the dog family) just like wolves and foxes, but it is thought to be most closely related to the South American bush dog. Interestingly, although small vertebrate prey is quite important to the maned wolf, it eats a great deal of fruits and vegetables, with the most frequently consumed fruit called the wolf apple.
|A slightly fuzzy picture of a brown-morph black bear right outside of our tent-cabin in Yosemite! Photo Credit: Julie Neher|
2. Thylacosmilus - Over the course of mammalian evolution, the marsupials have spat out a large number of look-alikes, or animals that evolved via convergent evolution to appear a great deal like other animals throughout the world. One of the most amazing of all of these (by far, in my opinion) is Thylacosmilus, a marsupial carnivore from the Miocene and Pliocene Epochs of South America. Thylacosmilus convergently evolved to resemble the saber-toothed cats of North America. Unfortunately, following the creation of the Isthmus of Panama that connected North and South America around 2 MYA, the saber-toothed cats like Smilodon moved down the newly-formed land bridge to colonize South America during the Great American Interchange, outcompeting Thylacosmilus in the process.
1. Raccoon Dog - The raccoon dog is a fantastic case of an animal that is now that it appears to be. You take one look at it, and you decide conclusively that you are looking at a raccoon, no doubt about it. Your second and third takes yield the same result. However, the raccoon dog is not a raccoon, as both its name and appearance might indicate: its a canid, through and through! Listed as "Least Concern" by the IUCN, the raccoon dog is native to eastern Asia, and is not very closely related to any extant species of dog. Just a tip, if you are trying to make someone look foolish, showing them a picture of a raccoon dog and having them guess what animal it is is an excellent way to show off your animal-prowess. Unless they know what it is, in which case you will be the more foolish.
Thanks for joining us tonight for our top ten list! And remember, if you have a birthday coming up, just email me the date at firstname.lastname@example.org with the date and your favorite animal, and I will do my best to get a post in!