If We Show You an Animal, Can You Guess Its Closest Relative?

By: Monica Lee
Image: seng chye teo/Moment/Gettty Images

About This Quiz

Don't let appearances fool you, because when it comes to relatives, it's all in the blood ... and bones ... and skeletal functions. All that furry cuteness is there just to confuse you. For instance, an armadillo has armor (plates of dermal bone called scutes) so the last animal you would think is its relative is the sloth, right? A sloth is slow moving and lives in trees! What makes it even weirder is that the relative of the sloth and armadillo is the anteater. But it does make sense scientifically, since the armadillo and its nearest relatives have similar niche roles, like being mostly insectivores and herbivores as well as being of small to medium body size. And they all have similar biological structures, including special articulations (shapes) on the lumbar vertebrae which are found in no other mammals. 

When going through this quiz, if some of the close relatives still don't make any sense just remember, evolution has had a long time to make each species widely different. For instance, the whale and hippo are in the same family tree. Long ago, whales and hippos split off from ruminants (hoofed animals) and it took over 60 million years to evolve to their present form. With that in mind, when you look at some of your relatives, doesn't it all make sense? Check this quiz out and have some relative fun. 


The Suborder Caniformia (literally "dog-like") contains animals that typically possess a long snout and non-retractile claws. Both the badger and skunk, as well as many other animals, are in this suborder.

The Suborder Caniformia, as noted, contains many animals, including weasels, badgers, otters and seals.

Porcupines belong to Suborder Hystricomorpha which contains the Zambian mole-rat as well as capybaras, degus and other animals.

The closest living relatives of dinosaurs are crocodilians, which includes crocodiles and alligators. We should be glad that dinosaurs don't roam the Earth now!

The order known as Perissodactyls' includes horses or equids, tapirs and rhinoceroses. Horses are less scary to tame than a rhino!

Tigers are the biggest members of the cat family and are closely related to other big cats, such as snow leopards and lions.

We know it sounds like a whale of a tale, but it's true. Long ago whales and hippos split off from ruminants (hoofed animals). It took more than 60 million years ago to evolve to their present, very distinct form.

Although penguins and albatrosses don't look that similar in body shape, they share subtle traits, like the arrangement of beak bones.

The American bison, the mountain goat, and the American bighorn sheep are all in the Bovidae family and are the closest relatives to sheep.

Pinnipeds belong to the order Carnivora and their closest living relatives are bears and musteloids (weasels, raccoons, skunks, and red pandas), having diverged about 50 million years ago.

If you answered "raccoon" it's understandable. That was the previous thinking. Current DNA analysis has revealed the giant panda's closest relative is the spectacled bear.

The platypus, is a member of the rare Monotreme order which has only one other member, the equally unusual echidna. The echidna is a small mammal, like the platypus, with a long snout that acts as both the mouth and nose.

Basically smaller versions of kangaroos, wallabies and wallaroos are the closest relatives. These marsupials are unique in that they carry their young in special body pockets called pouches.

The okapi and the giraffe are the only living members of the family Giraffidae. The okapi bear has zebra-type stripes, making it easy to think its closet relative is the zebra.

Capybaras share the Infraorder Hystricognath rodents with one of its closest relatives, the guinea pig. Capybaras live near bodies of water in savannas and dense forests.

Anteaters are more closely related to the slow-moving sloths than they are to any other group of mammals. The sloth must be the black sheep in that family!

Due to their agility, thick coats, and specialized receptors that makes them immune to snake venom, mongooses are known for killing cobras. That's the kind of relative you want in your family if you're a meerkat!

Here is one of those answers where "looks can be deceiving" as none of these animals look like each other. The closest living relative of armadillos are sloths and anteaters.

The squirrel family has lots of relatives, including tree squirrels, ground squirrels, chipmunks, marmots (including woodchucks), flying squirrels, and prairie dogs, among other rodents.

It may be hard to believe but the analysis of evolutionary history shows that elephant shrews are not classified with true shrews, but are more closely related to elephants!

That's right. Seals are the closest living relatives of bears. Bears belong to the Carnivoran suborder caniformia, which contains dogs, raccoons, mustelids (weasels, badgers, otters, and the like), skunks, and seals.

The closest living relative of octopuses are vampire squids.The vampire squid does not suck blood. It gets its name from its dark color and the squid has skin that connects the arms, resembling a cape.

The stinging tentacles are what is similar to sea anemones, coral and jellyfish. They all belong in the Cnidarians Phylum.

If your dog howls, you know why. The closest living relative of the dog is the gray wolf.

Chondrichthyes is a class that contains the cartilaginous fish, including sharks, rays, skates and chimaeras, making all of these relatives of each other.

Near Eastern wildcat and domestic cats fall into the same genetic Clade, a group of species with the same ancestor.

The latest research shows that turtles now belong in the newly named group 'Archelosauria' with their closest relatives being birds, crocodiles, and dinosaurs.

An even-toed ungulate with the family Suidae is where you'll find both the pig and its ancestor, the common Eurasian wild boar, along with other species.

The cattle family that the buffalo belongs to, Bovidae, is a widespread group of mammals which also includes goats, sheep, gazelles, and antelopes.

Under the class Amphibia you'll find the order Urodela which contain salamanders and newts. Under the same class is the order Anura and includes frogs and toads. Both of these orders reside together.

Through genetic analysis of butterflies and moths, it was discovered that butterflies are more closely related to very small (micro) moths and are the closest relative to butterflies.

The roadrunner resides in the Cuculidae family, which includes approximately 150 different bird species, such as cuckoos, koels, anis, coucals and malkohas.

The coyote is in the Phylum Chordates. It is a canine native to North America that is smaller than its close relative, the gray wolf.

Both llamas and alpacas are domestic camelids from South America. Alpacas are closely related to llamas, however, they are considerably smaller with finer hair.

Although foxes and dogs are members of the same animal family, canidae, foxes belong to the genus vulpes and are smaller in size, and have flatter skulls, than the majority of their canine cousins.

The scorpions' ancestors were the sea scorpions that once dominated the oceans. But today, the closest relative is a horseshoe crab. Did you know fried scorpion is a traditional dish from Shandong, China?

Pacus is the closet relative, but thankfully, piranhas must be the black sheep of that family. Pacus is a South American river fish that eats mostly plants.

Macaws, the brilliantly-colored parrots of Central and South America's rain forests, are closely related to parrots and song birds.

The Gila monster is a species of venomous lizard native to the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexican state of Sonora. A Gila monster bite is painful to humans, but it rarely causes death.

The chimpanzee is the closest relative of humans. Although you may have thought the gorilla was the closest, it is next in line.

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