Can You Match The Animal With Its Closest Relative?

By: Bambi Turner
Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

Do you know whether a whale's closest relative is a goldfish -- or a dolphin? Think you can pick out the closest family members of the bat, bear or lion? Take our quiz to prove your animal relationship IQ!

All animals -- including humans! -- are related to one another in some way, though you might have to go back millions of years to find a link. This link, known as a common ancestor, likely lived millions and millions of years ago. Different creatures and critters evolved from this ancestor, and gradually evolved into unique species. This might have happened due to geography, genetic mutations, natural selection or some other reason entirely.

The result is that all the animal species currently living now look pretty different from one another, but many are more closely related than you think. Take humans for example: We share around 98 percent of out DNA with chimps. That makes sense, considering the similarities between the two species. 

What might shock you, however, is how closely related humans are to other creatures. We share 90 percent of our DNA with cats, 85 percent with dogs, 80 percent with a mouse and 60 percent with a chicken!

Think you can spot these types of close family relationships in other species? Take our quiz to find out!

You might not suspect that land- and water-dwelling critters could be close kin, but the dolphin and the hippo actually shared a common ancestor around 40 million years ago. At some point, this semi-aquatic creature split into two species -- one making its home on land and one at sea. Today, these two mammals share one important characteristic -- they can't sweat, so both are forced to stay wet to keep their cool.

Lions and tigers and ... seals? Yup, the seal evolved from an animal known as the puijila, which itself branched off from the bear family. Today you'd only have to compare the feet of a bear with those of a seal to see the similarities between these critters.

The horse and the rhino evolved from a common ancestor that lived in modern-day India around 50 million years ago. Both of these animals are classified as odd-toed ungulates, which means they have an uneven number of toes on their rear feet. Horses and rhinos also share an unusual digestive system that differs from that of most other creatures.

The opossum may seem like it belongs to the same family as the rat, but it's actually a close relative of the kangaroo. Both are marsupials, or pouched mammals, who carry their young with them. Both of these animals are also close relatives with the koala.

The hyena might look like some kind of dog, but it actually shares a closer relationship to the feline family. It belongs to the same suborder as the common cat -- feliformia, which also includes the meerkat, and the ferret-like mongoose.

The dog is classified as canis familiaris, while the coyote as canis latrans. Both evolved from the wolf and are part of the canine family. These two species are so closely related that they can interbreed and their offspring will usually be healthy and viable.

You may be surprised to learn that the land-dwelling elephant and sea-dwelling manatee are close kin. These two animals evolved from a common ancestor around 50 million years ago. Both are herbivores -- plant eaters -- despite their size, and manatees are actually the only mammals that live in the sea who subsist entirely on plants.

At first glance, the okapi looks an awful lot like a zebra thanks to its black and white stripes. Take a closer look, and you'll see that the head of the okapi is very similar to that of a zebra. These two animals are the only two members of the family Giraffidae, which means they are the only close relatives that each one has.

The red panda isn't actually related to those giant bamboo-eating pandas that share its name. In fact, the red panda -- which looks a bit like a fox -- is much more closely related to the raccoon. Both have bushy, ringed tails, and are also close family to the skunk.

Believe it or not, humans share more than 99 percent of their DNA with two different species -- the bonobo and the chimp. We likely shared a common ancestor millions of years ago, but split off to become a distinct species 4 to 7 million years ago.

The scorpion might look unique with its curved tail, but it actually has some surprisingly close kin. Both scorpions and ticks are arachnids -- each has four pairs of legs -- a characteristic also shared by spiders and some types of mites.

They might not look like much, but both coral and jellyfish are living creatures, and are close relatives. What do they have in common, you ask? Each comes equipped with stinging cells that can give a zap when they come into contact with other critters -- or humans.

Despite its name, the horseshoe crab isn't a crustacean. In fact, it's much more closely related to arachnids -- such as spiders, ticks or scorpions -- than to crustaceans like crabs or lobsters.

Ants, bees and wasps are all members of an animal classification known as aculeate hymenoptra. Surprisingly, bees and ants are more closely related than bees and wasps, largely because both bees and ants exhibit an extraordinary level of social organization.

Turtles share a much closer relationship to birds than to lizards or other reptiles. Both are part of a classification known as archelosauria, which also includes crocodiles and dinosaurs.

Sharks and rays are both cartilaginous fish -- which means their skeletons are made of cartilage. Both have five to seven sets of gills and tough scale-like skin coverings, while neither is equipped with a swim bladder.

Cows and goats are both bovids -- animals with hooves which are split into two toes. These creatures also share one additional feature despite their apparent differences -- bony horns or protrusions which are covered in a thick layer of keratin.

Frogs and toads are both part of an order of amphibians known as Anura, which includes 5,000 different species. Despite their family ties, these creatures have some key differences; frogs tend to have smooth, moist skin, while toads are drier and bumpier -- though neither will give you warts.

Both the jackal and the domestic dog are part of the genus canis, and both are descendants of the mighty wolf. Jackals tend to be less social than dogs, preferring to travel in pairs, while dogs are social creatures that live in packs, similar to wolves.

Llamas and camels belong to the family camelidae. Both are even-toed ungulates with two toes -- not hooves -- on each back foot. This group of animals also includes pigs, cattle and deer.

Armadillos and anteaters -- as well as sloths -- belong to the order xenarthra. Members of this classification shared a common ancestor around 50 million years ago in South America, and can be distinguished by one small bone spur, which helps to stiffen the spine.

Yes, lions and tigers are close cousins. Both members of the family felidae, these creatures both have a carnivorous appetite, short muzzles and sharp teeth.

Believe it or not, that tiny cat curled up in your bed has an awful lot in common with the king of the jungle. Despite their size differences, both are members of the family felidae. One key difference -- while cats can purr, they can't roar, while lions can roar, but can't purr.

Hedgehogs and moles have some key differences. Moles don't share the spiny skin hedgehogs are known for, for instance. Despite this, both are members of the order eulipotypha, which also includes shrews. If you can overlook the spines on a hedgehog, these animals even look pretty similar -- both have long, pointed snouts, small ears and tiny eyes.

Both jaguars and leopards are spotted cats belonging to the family felidae. Leopards are smaller than jags, with smaller rosettes, while the larger rosettes on a jaguar typically have black spots hidden inside. Another key difference between these feline kin is the place they call home, with leopards living in Asia and Africa, while jaguars live in Central and South America.

Despite their similar names, the giant panda has much more in common with the polar bear than with the red panda, which it is only distantly related to. Both polar bears and giant pandas are members of the ursidae family, though there are some differences between the two species. While polar bears live in the Arctic and chow down on meat, giant pandas call China home and exclusively feast on bamboo.

Given their similar appearance, it's no surprise that crabs and lobsters share a strong relationship. Both are crustaceans, which also includes crayfish and shrimp, and each has 10 walking legs -- including one pair of giant claws.

Both the squid and the octopus belong to the cephalopod class of invertebrates. These close cousins each have eight arms, and move via their own form of jet propulsion.

Ostriches and kiwi birds may look very different, but they actually have quite a bit in common. Both belong to a group of flightless birds known as ratites, which also includes the emu, rhea and elephant bird.

Both the duck and the chicken are part of an order known as gallonanserae, or fowl, which includes most poultry -- turkeys, ducks, chickens, quail and other birds eaten for their meat. This relationship persists despite their different appearances, and despite the fact that ducks live in the water while chickens live on land.

The donkey and the horse are both members of the Equidae family. While these two species are closely related enough to interbreed successfully, their young -- a mule -- is almost always sterile. Horses have 64 chromosomes, while donkeys have 62. Any mules produced between the two species end up with 63 chromosomes.

Hamsters and mice are both rodents. They belong to the animal order rodentia, which includes a whopping 40 percent of all mammals. While the hamster and the mouse look different, they share one key trait that binds them -- a single set of continuously growing incisors.

The goldfish is one of the smaller members of the carp family -- officially named the family cyprinidae. Both are freshwater fish, but while goldfish are very popular in aquariums, carp are more likely to hang out in your local lake.

No, a zebra is not a horse with stripes -- but these two creatures are closely related nonetheless. They shared a common ancestor around 5 millions years ago before evolving into two different species. Beyond the obvious difference of stripes, zebras also have a tail that's mostly hide, while horse tails are all hair.

Chimps and gorillas are both members of the family hominidae, and each shares 95 to 99 percent of their DNA with humans -- and each other. Despite this close relationship, they look very different, with gorillas being larger and stronger than their smaller chimp cousins.

Alpacas and llamas both belong to the family camelid, which also includes camels. While the species can successfully interbreed, alpacas are raised primarily for their wool, while llamas are more often raised for work.

Gators and their croc cousins are reptiles that belong to the order crocodilia. While they look very similar, you can spot the difference with a look at their snouts. Crocs have a pointed, V-shaped muzzle with visible teeth, while alligator snouts are rounded and U-shaped, with no visible teeth when the mouth is closed.

Ferrets and weasels are both small carnivorous mammals belonging to the family mustelidae, which also includes minks, otters and badgers. Both have long, tubular bodies, though fur color varies dramatically. While ferrets have been domesticated for thousands of years, weasels still run wild and rarely interact with humans.

Storks and cranes look very similar, with just a few physical differences -- primarily the bill, which is heavier on a stork and finer on a crane. These creatures belong to slightly different orders, but share common features, such as stretching their necks long while in flight rather than pulling their heads toward their bodies.

The meerkat is a member of the mongoose family, and both are classified by scientists as belonging to the herpestidae family of animals. Meerkats chow down on bugs while their mongoose kin are typically carnivores.

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