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Are scientists still working on the difference between the red panda and the raccoon? In a book someone said you are still working on it.
Question Date: 2017-01-28
Answer 1:

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!


Answer 2:

Answer #1

The taxonomic classification of the red panda has been controversial since it was discovered. Taxonomy: science of defining groups of biological organisms on the basis of shared characteristics and giving names to those group. Reference: Wikipedia here .

The question is whether red pandas are a type of raccoon or if they're a type of weasel, or if they're something else entirely. They're not "normal" raccoons or "normal" weasels - there are fossil red pandas that are very old, and those fossils are already far enough from "normal" raccoons and weasels that we can't tell if they're more like one or the other.



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