Technically and biologically speaking, human’s closest living relatives are chimpanzees.
And while humans are classified as Homo sapiens, all other known members of Homo are extinct i.e. Homo neanderthalensis, or Neanderthals.
“Reconstructing the Tree of Life is complicated and can lead to exciting surprises,” says Alex Dornburg of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. “New information can change our understanding of relationships instantly.” DNA analysis, for example, “has revealed that some animals that were long thought to be closely related actually aren’t, or vice versa.
So what other animals exactly are all alone in this big blue planet? Quite a few that you may be surprised to discover are just like us, minus a few paws here and there.
While Aardvarks appear to look like they could be related to many animals — they were once believed to be relatives of the anteater due to their similar food preference
But actually, aardvarks (Orycteropus afer) are interestingly related to elephants and separated from that particular family tree close to 80 million years ago.
The aardvarks we know of today are the only one of their kind and have survived on its native central African grasslands.
The Aye Aye is a nocturnal primate with big teeth as well as yellow eyes — living along the east coast of Madagascar.
In 1994, fossilized remains of the huge aye-ayes were discovered much farther south. And if you believe the ones today are scary, imagine one that is two to five times bigger than the current aye-aye.
The aye aye is primate relative of the bat.
Despite their looks, Tuataras are not lizards but their own version of reptile — nocturnal and partial to cooler weather.
The animals are considered a “living fossil” as they walked with the dinosaurs and are considered “the loneliest species,” as they have lived for millions of years without change with no living relatives.
Tuataras only live in New Zealand and were there even when the island broke off from the ancient subcontinent Gondwana, 80 milllion years ago.
While another tuatara species was believed to inhabit New Zealand’s North Brother Island — thanks to genetic testing in 2010, it was revealed that it is the same species so the tuatara is still the only one of its kind.
There has been debate in regards to today’s koalas and if they are actually a subspecies but thanks to genetic testing, it has been found that koala’s are the only one of its kind.
Why is that so exactly?
According to Improbable Destinies: Fate, Chance and the Future of Evolution, Jonathan Losos writes that koalas evolved to suit their diet of eucalyptus leaves, native only in Australia, and how their solo status may reflect “the uniqueness of its environment.”
Its actual name being the “ratel,” the honey badger is not made up of honey and is not a badger.
They are in fact, however, related to weasels, skunks, otters as well as other badgers (which are all in the Mustelid family) but this African mammal is in a genus by itself.
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