People often spend time with family during the holidays, so we thought we would take a look at some animal families—as in the scientific classification, not in the generational way like the sea otter family at the Seattle Aquarium. (Did you know that we have three generations of sea otters? Grandmother Lootas, daughter Aniak and granddaughter Sekiu. Learn more about them here!)
Similar to our biological or adopted families, there are attributes that these animals share with their families. And there’s often a black sheep or two.
Species: Northern sea otter, North American river otter, American mink
Characteristics: Long-bodied, short-legged carnivores
Odd animal out: The sea otter is unique in this family for being the largest member and the only marine species. It also lacks the anal scent glands that are typical of this family. Skunks, which are famous for their scent glands, actually belong to a separate family (Mephitidae).
Species: Black-bellied plover, killdeer
Characteristics: Small to medium-sized shorebirds with large, round heads, large eyes, and short bills. Instead of hunting by probing and feeling with their bills, like most shorebirds, this family hunts by sight.
Odd animal out: The killdeer is a shorebird that you don’t always find by the shore! They are often spotted on lawns, golf courses, driveways and parking lots.
Species: Clown anemonefish, false clown anemonefish, blue green chromis, blackfin chromis, Hawaiian sergeant major, black spot sergeant major, Pacific gregory
Characteristics: Mostly marine, mostly tropical, territorial fish with bodies that are often compressed laterally (from side to side).