Thank you for the fantastic question. Your
question is really nice because it was only
recently that scientists were able to figure out
the differences between red pandas and raccoons.
Back in 1825, red pandas were thought to be
very similar to raccoons. This was because the two
animals look a lot alike – especially their faces
and tails. Since then, scientists have found out
that red pandas, despite looking like raccoons,
are actually not very similar to raccoons. Red
pandas are actually a very different animal.
Scientists in 2001 discovered this by studying
the genetics of both red pandas and raccoons. When
the scientists did this, they learned that red
pandas are not closely related to raccoons at all.
It was just by chance that the two animals seem to
look like each other, but it turns out they are
quite different from each other.
Thanks for the great question!