Falling Far from the Family Tree: 8 Totally Unexpected Animal "Cousins"

Photo by: iStockphoto
Red Panda
The red panda is also called the lesser panda, the red bear-cat, the shining cat, and the firefox. However, it's not actually a panda, a bear, a cat, or a fox. The red... more 
Photo by: iStockphoto
Red Panda
The red panda is also called the lesser panda, the red bear-cat, the shining cat, and the firefox. However, it's not actually a panda, a bear, a cat, or a fox. The red panda is the only living member of the genus Ailurus. So what's the red panda's closest cousin?
Related: 8 super tiny animals that fit in the palm of your hand less 
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Thu, Jul 18, 2013 12:44 PM EDT
So, I was given an assignment to find some the most surprising animal "cousins" - species that are closely related that you wouldn't expect. The major thing I learned from this is basically that I sort animals like a two-year-old. I absolutely would have thought that elephants, hippos, and rhinos were in one group. If it were up to me, I'd re-classify all the animals in a way that makes sense. For example, all the animals that look really cute when they stand up would be in one group, because the fact that meerkats aren't in the same family as otters and weasels is just plain wrong. Alas, it isn't up to me. Just like my own family tree, the animal family system is completely crazy. Enjoy these surprising animal "cousins" - just in time for Cousin's Day on July 24th! - By Joslyn Gray



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