Summer Connect #9 – What’s the Difference 3.

Ever wonder what the difference is between two very similar species of the animal kingdom? Here’s #3 in the series, “What’s the Difference.”

What’s the Difference between:

A Seal and a Sea Lion?
The three main groups of seals are earless seals (harbor seals and elephant seals), eared seals (fur seals and sea lions), and walruses. Harbor seals can’t use their hind flippers for walking on land. Instead they get around with their front flippers and an awkward stomach motion resembling the contortions of a giant inchworm. In the water, harbor seals use their hind flippers in a side-to-side, fishtail motion for propulsion.

All seals have ears, but the eared seals have earlike protective flaps over the earholes. Sea lions are able to rotate their hind fins to act as back legs, enabling them to “walk” quickly on land. In the water, they swim using only their front flippers.
The intelligent California sea lion is the “trained seal” you see in shows.

An Ape and a Monkey?
Chimpanzees, orangutans and gorillas are called great apes. Gibbons are known as lesser apes. Apes inhabit tropical Africa and Asia and are generally much bigger and smarter than monkeys. They don’t have tails, but they’re agile and climb well. Apes walk almost upright, with help from their arms and knuckles or fists.

Monkeys walk on all fours, though some can stand or run upright for a short time. All monkeys live in the tropics. Old World monkeys include langurs, baboons, and macaques. Some live in trees, others on the ground. Marmosets, capushins, tamarins, and howlers are New World monkeys. All New World species are arboreal (tree dwelling). Most monkeys have long tails; some New World species’  tails are prehensile (able to grab things such as food and branches).

A Coral Snake and a King Snake?
King snakes do people a favor by eating other snakes, including poisonous ones such as rattlesnakes. Despite their sometimes formidable length – up to 6 feet – king snakes present no direct threat to us. Unfortunately for them, they can be dangerous in a subtle way: they resemble the extrememly venomous coral snake. Both snakes have blackish bodies with red, yellow, white, or brown bands or rings (depending on the species) separated by wide bands of basic black.

How do you tell the harmless king snake from the several deadly coral snakes? By remembering the order and color of the bands. That’s iffy for most people, and a mistake could be fatal. Some folks play it safe by killing any snake of this description. Better is to let them alone to perform their parts in the dance of life.

A Hawk and a Falcon?
Hawks soar and glide on straight, blunt-tipped wings until they spot prey. They then dive to grasp and kill the prey with their claws. Falcons rarely soar and glide on their long, swept-back, pointed wings. Instead, they dive (swoop) from a high perch at speeds up to 200 mph, stunning their prey with the force of the hit.

Falcons strike and grasp prey with their feet, but kill it with their beak, which is equipped with two sharp teeth. Peregrine falcons are prized as the most desirable bird for the ancient sport of falconry. They are trained to attach game birds, such as pigeons. Falcons do not build nests, preferring to lay their eggs on rock ledges, cliffs, and even buildings. Hawks usually build their flat, crude nests in trees.

(Information is taken from the Sierra Club’s  “What’s the Difference Knowledge Cards”  available through Pomegranate Communications, Inc.)

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