10 Modern Animals That Look Surprisingly Unlike Their Ancestors

Marlene 2 month ago
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Dardarkom set out to track the ancestors of some familiar modern animals and discovered that evolution took some unexpected turns with many of them.

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    Evolution is a strange phenomenon. It's difficult for us to picture the prehistoric world, which was so different from what we know, and the strange creatures that lived there. For example, the ocean was shallow and the sun never set during the Cambrian era. Animals had only recently been created eating each other, and eyeballs were all the rage. It's mind-boggling to think that our cats and dogs are descended from those guys.

    Dardarkom set out to track the ancestors of some familiar modern animals and discovered that evolution took some unexpected turns with many of them. Check out it for yourself.

    #1. Birds

    Source: Bright Side

    Despite being portrayed in movies as scaly animals, most dinosaurs are more closely related to birds than lizards. Technically, all contemporary birds are dinos, but only theropods, which included the iconic T-rex, velociraptors, and all other meat-eating 2-legged dinos, were birds. After all, raptors are so named for a purpose.

    #2. Rhinos

    Source: Unsplash

    The most recognizable feature of rhinoceros is, of course, their horns. So it's strange to imagine that their forefathers had no horns. At the same time, Indricotherium was the largest terrestrial mammal ever known, outweighing elephants by a mile — they were 7.4 meters (24.3 feet) long and weighed between 15 and 20 tons. 

    Battle vehicles from the Star Wars film series were greatly influenced by the Indicotherium's close relative, Paraceratheriums.

    #3. Dogs and bears

    Source: Unsplash

    Surprisingly, canines and bears share an ancestor who looked nothing like either of them. The Cynodictis was a small, low-slung creature, about 2 feet (70 centimeters) long and weighing only 5-10 pounds. (up to 5 kg). To be honest, it resembled a cat or a marten. Yet, archeologists believe it acted like a dog, living in packs and hunting small, furry prey on the plains.

    #4. Armadillos

    Source: Bright Side

    This transformation wasn’t as drastic as some other ones on the list, mostly just based on size. The ancestor of modern armadillos, Glyptodon, was roughly the same size and weighed as much as a Volkswagen Beetle.

    #5. Horses

    Source: Pexel

    Horses are frequently used as a sign of elegance, nobility, and speed, so horse girls might be dismayed to learn that the prehistoric "horse," Brontotheriidae, was more closely related to the rhino. They were stocky, had a slow tank, short legs, and strangely curved twin horns.

    #6. Pigs

    Source: Unsplash

    Modern pigs, boars, and hogs are nothing to sneeze at: they're highly intelligent, powerful, bulky, and fast animals, which is an excellent combo for evolutionary success. Pigs used to be much bigger, more powerful, and frightening-looking. They had large teeth instead of tusks. The Entelodon, like modern pigs, was an omnivore, but because it had offensive skills that allowed it to easily take down prey, it leaned heavily toward a predatory lifestyle. In addition, they fished in groups.  It's no surprise it was given the moniker "hell pig."

    #7. Pangolin

    Source: Shutterstock

    The Hyaenodon is not linked to hyenas, despite its name. It is not linked to canines, despite its dog-like appearance, large teeth, and carnivorous lifestyle. Instead, its nearest contemporary relative is...a pangolin, the world's most polite animal. It's unclear when these four-legged large predators evolved into tiny scaly bipeds that ate ants and other insects, but this could be the true werewolf of our world.

    #8. Sloths

    Source: Bright Side

    Sloths are a kind of natural downfall. Sloths today are extremely slow, clumsy, and vulnerable arboreal creatures that spend the majority of their lives sleeping. It's a surprise they survived as a species at all. Their progenitor, Megatherium, on the other hand, was a massive land-dwelling powerhouse capable of fighting cave bears and mammoths. They were as large as modern elephants and could weigh more than 4 tons.

    #9. Hippos

    Source: BBC

    Andrewsarchus was the name given to the world's biggest predator. The monster's cranium was nearly 32.8 inches (1 meter) long — half of it was a snout and jaws with large teeth. We'd expect such a carnivore to be an ancestor of wolves or hyenas, but the hippo is their nearest living relative. Those big teeth appear to flow in the family.

    #10. Whales

    Source: Depositphotos

    The mighty ocean titans have humble beginnings. All whales, including orcas and dolphins, descended from the Indohynus, a cat-sized and mouse-like creature that not only survived on land but was also a vegetarian. The Indohyus case is an example of evolution making a U-turn after most of its relatives crawled on land and forced these guys to return to the ocean. The kicker? Whales are close relatives of cows and share the same ancestry with them.

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