One of the most striking features of Nature is the diversity of plants and animals within the system. Many animals share close resemblances with some other animals. I get asked too many times the differences between such animals, or at times I see people making mistakes about those animals. It is for this reason I thought, that it would be wise to write a blog about this topic. Rather than to explain different people different times. Recently someone told me that “There’s a Lizard on my room, how do I get rid of it” I knew it wasn’t a lizard but a Gecko!
So then, lets start with Lizards and Geckos !
Lizards and Geckos
Okay! Remember that term in Science that your teachers made you learn by heart during your SLC’s? “All Alkalis are bases but not all bases are alkalis?” Well it’s kind of same here, All Geckos are Lizards but not all Lizards are Gecko. To be honest this doesn’t apply , it’s actually wrong. Then why did I say something that’s wrong? Because I just want you guys to have an Idea about the concept because it does apply to some leve.
Geckos and Lizards both fall on the same class, order and even suborder; Lacertilia. So that means, up to the rank of Suborder, Lizards and Geckos are same. But from family onwards they are different. Geckos fall under that family Gekkonidae, whereas lizards have various other families such as Iguanidae (Iguanas), Scinicidae (Skinks) and so on. I guess now you’ve understood that all Geckos are lizards because they share the similar hierarchy but a different family, but all Lizards are not Geckos, because Geckos are different to lizards in various characteristics, such as :
- The most distinct difference between the two is the body, Geckos are soft bodied compared to Lizards.
- Lizards have moveable eyelids, which is lacking in Geckos, they have a transparent membrane.
- Among the Lizards, Gecko have a peculiar characteristics of vocalization.
- Geckos have sticky pads located on the bottom of their feet, that is why they are mostly on your wall. It would be pretty hard for a Lizard to do that
So then a simple way to identify them is by looking at them, if they are soft bodied and walking around your walls, they are Geckos! And if they are on your garden and have a scaly, tough body then they are lizards! And also usually Geckos are nocturnal.
Butterflies and Moths
I think Butterflies and Moths are the most mistaken Insects in the nature. Well, they do look similar, But are they? NO!
The most simple way to differentiate between a butterfly and a moth is to look at its antenna! An antenna of a butterfly is club shaped, while the antenna of moth is feather or comb shaped! Okay, someone might say that how can one look at the antenna of a flying butterfly? Fair enough, If that’s the case then, here are some of the other differences between them:
- The second simplest way to differentiate Butterflies from Moths is to look at their wings, Butterflies usually fold their wings vertically upwards, where are moths tend to spread it down on the surface.
- Moths are Nocturnal, Butterflies are Dirunal
- The wings of moths have a structure called Frenulum, which basically joins the fore and hind wings so they can move in unison
- Usually, Butterflies are more vividly coloured than moths.
Moth’s Antenna Butterfly’s Antenna
I’m not even sure if we have different names for Butterflies and Moths in Nepali? If there is please mention it on the comments!
Crocodiles and Alligators
I love this one! And most people make mistakes on this as well. Crocodiles and Alligators! They actually look very same and it’s logical for a layman to make a mistake. But if you look closely the differences are very obvious.
- The most distinguishable characteristics lies in the snout of the animal . The snout of Alligators are wider and U shaped compared to that of Crocodiles which have a shaper V shaped snout.
- The upper jaw of Alligators are wider than the lower jaw, hence the upper jaw completely overlaps the lower jaw and teeth of lower jaw are hidden while the mouth is closed. But in case of Crocodile both the jaws fit together, the teeth interlocking with each other and a distinct 4th tooth of the lower jaw is visible in case of crocodiles.
- There are various other anatomically differences such as salt glands but let’s not get into that because we’re just dealing with morphological characters!
A: Alligator Left : Alligator
B: Crocodile Right : Crocodile
Rats and Mouse
You get to see these every day right? Ever cared to know if rats and mouse are same or different? Or they just have two names for the animals? Well if you thought so, you were wrong, Rats and Mice are different than Rats.
- Mice usually have triangular snout with long whiskers, and are smaller (10-20cms) compared to the Rats (40cms or more; that’s with the tail)
- Mice excrete more than Rats, Mice produce upto 100 droppings per day while rats produce upto 50
- Mice have large floppy ears
Fox, Jackals and Wolf
This has to be the most confusing one right? They all look the same? Or again, Do they? Let’s see!
Fox, Jackals, Wolf, they all belong to the Canidae family. The canids are further divided into tribes, Canini and Vulpini. Jackals and Wolf belong to the tribe Canini, Foxes belong to the tribe Vulpini.
- Foxes have long and narrow snout, pointed ears, short legs and bushy tails with beautiful body color.
- Foxes are omnivorous.
- They live in a small group and hunt in group
- They have moderate body, larger compared to Foxes (Similar to dogs)
- Jackals are mostly carnivores
- Prefer to live in pairs
- The wolf have largest body of all the canine families. They have a lean body, thick fur
- Wolf are the closest relatives of the present day dogs, they can actually interbreed with dogs
- They live in a pack, with Alpha male leading the pack
Representation of various canines, Including Dogs and Coyote
So these are the basic differences between the common animals that people mostly get confused with! If you guys have confusion among other animals , please leave a comment and I will cover it in next article.
[All the photos used in this articles were taken from Google Images. Credit goes to the person who took it or created the illustrations.]