Home AnimalsThese Animal Species Don’t Live Near Each Other But Are Eerily Similar
AnimalsBy Monica Gray -

If we look at evolution over a long period, it’s fascinating to see how much has changed through human and animal life. We do share 96% of our DNA with apes! Humans aren’t the only ones that have evolved, though. Scientists have discovered animals living thousands of miles away from each other are eerily similar. There’s even a term for it: convergent evolution. According to Brittanica, “these environments, therefore, exert similar pressures on the evolution of the animals living in each. As a result, unrelated species may be similar in many ways.

This phenomenon is called convergent evolution, or convergence.” Animals that fill similar roles in the ecosystem have similar characteristics, and the process is incredibly remarkable. If we look at the entire earth as a whole, we see that there are numerous examples of convergent evolution to look at, even if the similarities are striking and feel a but eery.

These Animal Species Don’t Live Near Each Other But Are Eerily Similar
Ranker

Mole And Marsupial Mole

Even though both of these species live nowhere near each other, they are eerily similar. But even though they’re mostly the same, they have one huge difference which officially makes them separate animals. These two are similar to the sugar glider and flying squirrel. The sugar glider is a nocturnal possum and the flying squirrel is a rodent. The flying squirrel does not fly. Researchers have found that “the Australian marsupial mole, as the name indicates, is indeed a marsupial while the standard North American mole is placental (like humans). As PBS states, both species “burrow through soft soil to find and eat insects” and have a “streamlined body shape” with “modified forelimbs for digging.” It’s incredibly fascinating that both animals are so eerily similar but live on separate continents, thousands of miles apart. Australia keeps surprising us with examples of convergent evolution like this one (Ranker).

These Animal Species Don’t Live Near Each Other But Are Eerily Similar
Roundglass Sustain

Ungulates

To put it simply, an Ungulate is a large mammal with hooves. Think of a horse and deer. They’ve also made a list of eerily similar animals, that live thousands of miles apart. “Several groups of ungulates have independently reduced or lost side digits on their feet, often leaving one or two digits for walking. That name comes from their hooves, which have evolved from claws several times. For example, horses have one walking digit, and domestic bovines have two on each foot. Various other land vertebrates have also reduced or lost digits.” These mammals don’t live anywhere near each other, but managed to have similar bodily features that helped them adapt to their environment. According to UCMP, “the Ungulata, is now recognized as a paraphyletic grouping; that is, it contains some, but not all, descendants of a common ancestor.” They’ve all evolved from somewhere and spread themselves out across the world.

These Animal Species Don’t Live Near Each Other But Are Eerily Similar
Ranker

Sunbird And Hummingbird

These two adorable animals just sound so cute. Luckily for us, they’re eerily similar even though they don’t live anywhere near each other. It’s said that “the familiar hummingbird on the left is a New World (Americas) bird, while the similar sunbird is from the Old World (Africa, Europe, and Asia). They belong to different orders but have similar lifestyles.” These two birds couldn’t live farther apart! It takes us many hours on an airplane to fly from the Americas to Africa, Europe, and Asia, so it’s surprising to learn how similar they are. Both of these animals “dart among tropical flowers, feeding upon nectar, and have a similar appearance because of how their feeding habits evolved. Some sunbirds also hover like hummingbirds when they feed. Their metabolic behavior is similar in certain species, too, and both sunbirds and hummingbirds living at high altitudes have been known to enter a state of torpor at night.” This torpor is eerily similar to the stoners of Colorado, who slip into a blissful, detached state. Maybe they’re more similar to these birds than we think, too (via Ranker).

These Animal Species Don’t Live Near Each Other But Are Eerily Similar
Fact Zoo

Old And New World Porcupines

Let’s take a look at these pointy critters. The Old and New World porcupines share an ancestor, and because of this, they have similar quill structures. This is a prime example of convergent evolution because we’re also seeing these structures in echidnas, hedgehogs, and tenrecs, other animals that are eerily similar, even though they live around the world (Wikipedia). According to Quizlet, “the tenrecs, echidnas, and hedgehogs are examples of convergent evolution wherein they are not closely related but have the same characteristics, in this case, the spikes. This adaptation evolved due to defense mechanisms from predators. These spikes are released in sight of a predator attacking them.” Evolution gave these creatures similar defense mechanisms.

These Animal Species Don’t Live Near Each Other But Are Eerily Similar
Octolab TV

Octopus Eye And Human Eye

Even though this isn’t an animal species, the eyes of the octopus and the eye of the human are eerily similar. It may come as a surprise that an animal living deep below the ocean has similarities to billions of people on land. The eye of the octopus and squid both have similar structures to the human eye. Like humans, the octopus and squid “also have large eyes, with a lens, iris, and a single large interior chamber, as shown below, which provide them with excellent vision. However, they inherited photoreceptor cells that are oriented towards the light, so that their visual nerves run behind the retina, and hence, squid and octopuses have no blind spot (Evolution).

These Animal Species Don’t Live Near Each Other But Are Eerily Similar
Ranker

Hopping Mouse And Kangaroo Rat

These cute little critters live in the heat of the desert. While you wouldn’t catch us roaming around the hottest parts of the world, these animals thrive there. And even though they’re eerily similar, they live nowhere near each other. “The kangaroo rat’s desert is in North America, while the hopping mouse hops around the deserts of Australia. Besides keeping cool in similar ways, they also both have, “a small rounded body shape with very large hind legs and long thin tails, a characteristic bipedal hop, and nocturnal, burrowing and seed-eating behaviors.” They convergently evolved into their roles in the ecosystem to fill similar niches (via Ranker).

These Animal Species Don’t Live Near Each Other But Are Eerily Similar
Ranker

Sugar Glider And Flying Squirrel

If you’ve ever seen base jumping, you’ll know that their suits resemble flying squirrels. Maybe we’re more closely related to this species than we think. They indirectly helped develop the body parachute idea, and because of them, humans are now able to jump off cliffs and fly through the air, even if it’s one of the most dangerous sports in the world. Take a look at this picture, though, and you’ll see that the two animals are eerily similar. “On the left is the flying squirrel, commonly found in North America or Northern Europe. The other one is a sugar glider, commonly found in Australia and New Guinea. Their similar “wings” and big eyes are independent adaptations that evolved because they have similar lifestyles: they both leap from the tops of trees and forage at night.” While we’re not foraging at night, we do leap from the trees. But, “there’s one big difference between the two: the flying squirrel is a placental mammal (like humans) while the sugar glider is a marsupial mammal (like a kangaroo).” It just goes to show how crazy evolution is, and how these animals evolved (via Ranker).

These Animal Species Don’t Live Near Each Other But Are Eerily Similar
Ranker

Rabbit And Bilby

European rabbits share quite a bit with the Australian marsupial bilby, even if they’re a lot cuter looks-wise. “They both have ‘well-developed hindlimbs, which reflect their hopping form of locomotion, and their long ears emphasize the important role of hearing.’ Additionally, “the bilby is a mammal like a rabbit with the female of both having mammary glands to feed their babies milk. However, the bilby is a marsupial with a pouch into which live young are born but not ready to survive in the outside world. They continue to grow inside the pouch until developed enough to venture out” (Artventure). As we know, rabbits do not have pouches, but they’re still eerily similar to the bilby. Here is yet another example of convergent evolution throughout thousands of years.

These Animal Species Don’t Live Near Each Other But Are Eerily Similar
Ranker

Wombat and Groundhog

Here we’re seeing another example of convergent evolution, and this time, it includes the wombat and groundhog. It’s groundhog day around these parts. When we look at a wombat, it might seem eerily similar to the groundhog we have in North America, even though they’re thousands of miles apart. “The wombat of Australia, much like the North American groundhog, “uses rodent-like teeth to eat roots and other plants” and “both animals excavate burrows.” In fact, they both have the same “structure and type of teeth” due to the “same selective pressures” of evolution.” Evolution is remarkable, and the more we look at it, the more we can see just how remarkable it is.

These Animal Species Don’t Live Near Each Other But Are Eerily Similar
Encyclopedia Brittanica

Butterflies

Butterflies around the world are eerily similar, even though they don’t live anywhere near each other. But these sensitive creatures can detect even the slightest change in the environment, which is why they’re such wonderful indicators of the world and how it’s operating. It’s said that “in butterflies, many close similarities are found in the patterns of wing coloration, both within and among families.” There are over 17,500 species of butterflies around the world, and all of them share similarities, even though they don’t live anywhere near each other. It’s said that “butterflies (and moths) are the only group of insects that have scales covering their wings, although some butterflies have reduced scales. They differ from other insects also by their ability to coil up their proboscis” (Si).

These Animal Species Don’t Live Near Each Other But Are Eerily Similar
Journals of India

New And Old World Frogs

Certain arboreal frog species are also eerily similar, both in the old-world and new-world families. They’ve developed the ability of gliding flight. The explanation all comes back to science and convergent evolution. “The gliding species all have similar features that facilitate gliding, large toe pads (which also help with climbing in non-flying tree frogs), long toes, webbing between the toes, and skin flaps along the limbs. A long body also helps. The gliding species with similar features are found in different families in different places. This suggests the likelihood of a genetic ‘switch’ that activates to produce the gliding configuration (Creation). Interestingly enough, even though these frogs are found around the world, in different places, they have striking similarities.

These Animal Species Don’t Live Near Each Other But Are Eerily Similar
Ranker

Antelope And Pronghorn

Just look at how similar these guys look. We’re looking at two completely different animals, the antelope, and the pronghorn. Well, to be more specific, the antelope is a gazelle. “Pronghorns are native to North America, while antelopes call Africa and Asia home.” Interestingly enough, they’ve lied to us this entire time. There’s that classic song “Home on the Range,” with the lyrics “give me a home where the buffalo roam, where the deer and antelope play.” Well, there are no antelope in North America, because they live on completely different continents. “Despite appearances to the contrary, the pronghorn’s closest “relative” is the giraffe. They are, however, found in the same biomes as antelope, which likely led to their similar behavioral traits” (via Ranker).

These Animal Species Don’t Live Near Each Other But Are Eerily Similar
Ranker

Giant Anteater And Spiny Anteater

Looking at these two photos, even though these anteaters don’t look eerily similar, they’re still both similar in behavioral ways. Actually, people who have anteaters as pets say that anteaters are as loving and expressive as dogs. Maybe you’ve just discovered your next pet. The one on the left looks a lot friendlier than the one on the right, who has a ton of spikes on its back. Experts have found that “they both have “a long, sticky tongue, few teeth, a rugged stomach, and large salivary glands” so they can live on a diet of ants.” There’s a reason they’re called anteaters! Even though it’s a kind of gross example of convergent evolution, considering they’re not the cutest animals to look at, they’re a prime example. The Giant Anteater is native to South America and the Spiny Anteater comes from Oceania, a world away. They honestly couldn’t live farther apart from one another, but it’s still a prime example nonetheless(via Ranker).

These Animal Species Don’t Live Near Each Other But Are Eerily Similar
Ranker

Rhea And Ostrich

Large, flightless birds seem like they could be part of an alien species. Or even a living dinosaur. Sometimes you wonder how some of these birds can even be considered bird at all thanks to their general lack of… well, flight. Ostriches are flightless birds, and while it may seem like it’s a disadvantage, it’s not. “Convergent evolution led to the flightless rhea of the Americas and the flightless ostrich of Africa. A rhea is smaller than an ostrich and has different coloration, but both species fulfill a similar “role” in their respective ecosystems” (Ranker). There are two other flightless birds, and that includes the Emu and the Cassowary of Australia. The Rhea and the Ostrich use their wings to help them with running, as opposed to flying. It’s surprising how eerily similar they are, even though they live on completely different continents.

These Animal Species Don’t Live Near Each Other But Are Eerily Similar
Live Science

Birds and Pterosaurs

You’ve probably seen photos of the Pterosaurs before. The Pterosaurs animal is extinct. Birds share eerily similar qualities with the extinct animal. Even though they’re reptiles, they’re similar to birds in the sense they have distinct beaks and wings. The pterosaurs were “close cousins of dinosaurs who evolved on a separate branch of the reptile family tree. They were also the first animals after insects to evolve powered flight, not just leaping or gliding, but flapping their wings to generate lift and travel through the air” (AMNH). Birds are eerily similar to these creatures, even though they don’t roam the planet any longer, luckily for us. We don’t need any more dangerous animals around the world, we already have to deal with enough!

These Animal Species Don’t Live Near Each Other But Are Eerily Similar
Shutterstock

Horses And Litopterna

Even though the litoptern is extinct, and horses are roaming around the planet, they have eerily similar legs. Scientists looking at how and why horses developed a single toe may pave the way to why these two species are eerily similar, even though they are generations apart. According to Academic, “even if digit reduction is ultimately not driven by the same factors in each clade (as may be the case with horses vs. litopterns), such a discovery would be a considerable leap forward in our understanding of how and why horses evolved a single toe.” That being said, convergent evolution surprises us again and again.

These Animal Species Don’t Live Near Each Other But Are Eerily Similar
Ranker

Pygmy Hippo And Capybara

At first glance, these cute entries may not seem as similar as some of the others, but let’s take a closer look. “On the left is an African pygmy hippopotamus. On the right is a South American capybara. Evolution did a number on these guys: the capybara is the world’s largest rodent, while the pygmy hippo is tiny. They have “converged upon comparable sizes.” Additionally, they’re semiaquatic residents that stroll around swampy tropical forest habitats. These two also have short necks, small, round ears, and a squarish muzzle. The only thing these two are missing is a tail (Ranker).

These Animal Species Don’t Live Near Each Other But Are Eerily Similar
Ranker

Toucan And Hornbill

Even though these two have similarities, they’re unrelated to each other. On the left, the Toucan is found in the American tropics. It seems like the media loves Toucans, especially because it’s a symbol of playfulness, love, and intelligence. Their colorful beaks are enough to make us fall in love with them. They’re the closest animal to a rainbow. But not many people know about the hornbills. “They are native to tropical Africa and Asia and also evolved a large-yet-light bill “to reach fruits from leafy branches that will not support their weight.” This is a classic case of convergent evolution: their environments exerted the same “pressure” on the evolution that eventually formed those big bills (via Ranker).

These Animal Species Don’t Live Near Each Other But Are Eerily Similar
Scitech Daily

Archosaur And Crocodile

Even though the archosaurs are extinct, they’ve evolved an upright posture. More so, it’s likely they were warm-blooded. Many mammals around the world are warm-blooded. But they also have qualities eerily similar to modern crocodiles, and that includes the four-chambered heart and crurotarsal. Scientists have discovered that “most crocodilians are large and have bony plates in the skin. These characteristics have contributed to an extensive fossil record that extends back to the middle of the Triassic. The history of crocodilians includes terrestrial species, a marine group (metriorhynchids) with the forelimbs modified as paddles and a lobed tail, and species as large as tyrannosaur dinosaurs” (Science Direct). That must mean we’re looking at dinosaurs when we see a crocodile. It’s just another reason to run in the opposite direction. We don’t want to mess with one of those animals.

These Animal Species Don’t Live Near Each Other But Are Eerily Similar
Ranker

Wolf And Tasmanian Wolf

Unfortunately, the Tasmanian wolf is extinct. They were native to the Australian mainland, in addition to the islands of Tasmania and New Guinea. The last Tasmanian wolf was shot in 1930 by Wilf Batty. As we’ve seen many times, the Tasmanian wolf was also a marsupial. “Being a marsupial and the tiger-like stripes on its back set it apart from wolves found in the rest of the world. It filled a similar “niche” as those wolves before it became extinct” (via Ranker). These animals were eerily similar, even though they lived a world away from each other. Convergent evolution keeps surprising us again and again. Even though it’s sad the Tasmanian wolf is extinct, at least we don’t have to worry about another ferocious animal roaming our planet. We’re happy with just the wolves.

These Animal Species Don’t Live Near Each Other But Are Eerily Similar
Ranker

Kangaroo And Cavy

Everyone loves kangaroos. If you’ve traveled to Australia, you might’ve even seen one. Even though they’re cute, they can get aggressive, so if you do happen to see a kangaroo, stay away and don’t aggravate it. It’s always better to be safe than sorry! But the kangaroos aren’t the only animals of their kind on the planet. Have you ever heard of a Cavy? These cute animals are found in Argentina, and the kangaroo is found in Australia, as we all know. “Like kangaroos, thee Cavy’s “rear legs are long… They are brown with white undersides, with hindquarters marked with a white patch. A large snout and large eyes are prominent on the face.” The kangaroo, however, is a marsupial, unlike the cavy” (Ranker). That’s the biggest difference between the two, even though they look eerily similar.

These Animal Species Don’t Live Near Each Other But Are Eerily Similar
Ranker

Giant Armadillo And Giant Pangolin

Even though these two animals aren’t related, they have evolved to have similar characteristics. According to the Difference Between, “they both have a similar type of defensive mean against the predators. They both have external shields or protective armor to defend themselves from their bodies being pierced by the unfriendly canines of predators. These external shields are not found in any other mammalian.” It’s interesting to learn about these similarities, considering the giant armadillo is native to North America, and the giant pangolin is native to Africa. Environmental pressures made these two evolve in similar ways. “The armadillo evolved a shell made from “plates of dermal bone” while the pangolin got keratin scales (similar in nature to horns)” (Ranker).

These Animal Species Don’t Live Near Each Other But Are Eerily Similar
Chevrotain – Biolib

Chevrotain And Paca

These two animals sound like car companies. They’re far from that, they’re animals that roam around the varying continents in the world. The paca is from South America, and the chevrotain is native to Asia and Africa. “Convergent evolution, scientists say, led to them both having similar markings on their torsos. Despite their remarkably similar appearance, the chevrotain is an ungulate (hoofed animal) while the paca is a rodent.” Even though they’re separated by the Atlantic Ocean, they fulfill similar roles in their ecosystems. They’re even said to have similar animal markings as one another (Ranker).

These Animal Species Don’t Live Near Each Other But Are Eerily Similar
Dreamstime

Plants

Last but not least, let’s talk about plants for a moment. Even though these aren’t animal species, they’re just as important to our evolution as animals are. In the plant kingdom, leaves exhibit convergent evolution. We see very similar patterns in leaves around the world, in separate genera and families. A great example is succulents. The “Arid regions of South Africa support a wide variety of euphorbiaceous plants, some of which are strikingly close to American cacti phenotypically. They are leafless stem succulents, protected by sharp spines, presumably adaptations to reduce water loss and predation in arid environments. Similarly, evergreen sclerophyll woody shrubs have evolved convergently under Mediterranean climates in several different regions” (Zo). Even though these plants are from completely different areas of the world, their similarities are striking. Convergent evolution is fascinating, and even if we might not fully understand it all, we can appreciate the magic of the world.

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