Mistaken Identity: Brown bear or black bear?

Carnivores, Uncategorized

How can you tell a black bear from a brown bear? Well, it may not be as easy as you think. In fact, both species of bears can range in color from deep black to blonde! Brown bears are typically larger than black bears, but again there is variation in size across subspecies. The best way to tell apart the two species of bear is to look at the anatomy of their shoulders and claws.

Brown bear

Brown bears are diggers, so they have powerful muscles between their shoulders forming a large, prominent hump. They also have 4-6 inch long curved claws that are dulled to help them forage and dig dens for hibernation.

Black bears, on the other hand, are climbers. They do not need the excessive shoulder muscle or long claws. They have shorter and sharper claws for climbing trees in which they use to forage above the forest floor, and will often hibernate up in the trees as well.

Black bear

Black bear

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Mistaken Identity – Turtle or Tortoise?

Creature Feature, Uncategorized

What is the difference between a tortoise and a turtle? All tortoises are in fact turtles—that is, they belong to the order Testudines or Chelonia, reptiles having bodies encased in a bony shell—but not all turtles are tortoises. The two have habitual and physical differences: that is, they look and act pretty differently.

Cali the tortoise

Tortoises only live on land, whereas turtles live in, or in association with, water. Turtles also have webbed feet and flipper-like forelimbs for easy swimming, while tortoises have stumpy non-webbed feet for walking on land. Their carapace (the bony shell on their back) also differs between species. Turtles have smooth and flatter carapaces to glide effectively in water, while tortoises have bumpier and more rounded carapaces. Another big difference between the two is their diet: tortoises are generally herbivorous, while turtles are omnivorous.

 

Mistaken Identity: Alligator or crocodile?

Creature Feature, Uncategorized

These ancient reptiles have often been confused with one another because of their similar appearances. Though in the wild, you would rarely naturally see the two species together. The alligator only exists in the United States and China, whereas crocodiles are found across the globe, inhabiting 5 of the 7 continents. They also inhabit two very different niches. Beside location, you can tell the two species apart by the shape of their snout (nose). Alligators have a wider, U shaped snout; while crocodiles have a narrower, V shaped shout. Since crocodiles have that narrow snout, some of their teeth are exposed when their mouth is closed, resulting in a candid croc smile.