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Sometimes, whether due to a specific visual style or use of anthropomorphism, a character who belongs to a clearly-identified Real Life species ends up looking nothing like what that species actually does.

Some examples are understandable and forgivable, especially if they are also an example of Seldom-Seen Species.

This is related to the Cartoon Creature (whose actual species is entirely ambiguous), and Call a Smeerp a Rabbit (which is about the name of their species, and not the species itself).

Many older examples of Seldom-Seen Species look and act very little (or nothing) like their Real Life equivalents.


Examples:


Film

  • The Aracuan Bird from The Three Caballeros is pink, unlike its real world counterpart.
  • A few of the reviews for An American Tail when it first came out complained about how un-catlike Tiger looked.
  • Shifu the red panda from Kung Fu Panda, with his huge round ears, more whitish orangey fur, and dark brown hands, is not that easy to identify as a red panda, which has medium sized, rounded triangular ears and is more reddish with a black underside and legs.
  • Zilla, a.k.a., the American Godzilla, is an interesting variation. He's supposed to be a mutated marine iguana, but his physical structure is more akin to that of a theropod dinosaur. Of course, since he is mutated, this might be justified.
  • The Land Before Time:
    • Cera is hardly recognizeable as a Triceratops since she only has one horn.
    • Poor Ducky. Sources can't decide if she's a Parasaurolophus, an Edmontoaurus, or a Saurolophus since she doesn't really look completely like one or the other.
    • Likewise, Hyp and his father don't really look much like Hypsilophodons.
    • The "Yellow Bellies" from The Wisdom Of Friends hardly look like the dinosaurs they're supposed to be either.
  • The Lion King
    • Rafiki is stated to be a mandrill, but he looks slimmer and more bluish gray than a real mandrill and has the tail of a baboon.
    • Zazu is supposed to be a yellow-billed hornbill. And, while he does look like a bird with a yellow beak, he doesn't look much like the bird he's supposed to be.
    • Mild Example: Pumbaa is supposed to be a warthog, but he looks a little more like a domesticated pig with a mane and tusks than an actual warthog.
  • Jiminy Cricket from Pinocchio is so heavily anthropomorphized that he looks more like a little green man with a rabbit nose and no ears. Animator Ward Kimball, who designed him, admitted that "he's a cricket because we say he's a cricket."
  • Remember the fact that Ratigan actually hates being called a rat? Word of God actually confirms that he is actually indeed a mouse, but for some reason he looks like a rat. Hint? Just count the number of fingers!
  • Flounder in The Little Mermaid is portrayed as a large yellow fish with blue fins and stripes and nothing like actual flounders (which are large, flat brown fish whose eyes are both on one side of its face) at all. However, that could just be his name, not his species. Also, many of the species described in the song "Under the Sea" look nothing like their real-life counterparts.
  • Cretaceous and Maelstrom, the main villains of Ice Age 2: The Meltdown are supposed to be a Mosasaurus and an Icthyosaurus, respectively, but they look more like mutated crocodiles instead.
  • Drake, the villain of The Pebble and the Penguin, actually looks very un-penguinlike if you look very closely.
  • Kron and Bruton from Dinosaur are supposed to be Iguanodons like Aladar and Neera, but Kron looks more like an Altirhinus and Bruton looks more like a Muttaburrasaurus since real Iguanodons do not have nose crests like they do.
  • Frankie the flea from Tom and Jerry: The Movie for some reason actually looks more like a large green mosquito than an actual flea. Also, fleas aren't the same size as mice!
    • Similarly, the largest member of the Singing Cat Gang actually does not look like a cat at all and looks more like a gorilla instead.
  • Priscilla from Rango is supposed to be an aye-aye, but she actually looks more a mouse instead.
  • Chirin's adult form at the end of Chirin no Suzu is supposed to be a ferocious ram, but he vaguely resembles more of a wildebeest instead and nothing like the other sheep in the film, not even himself as a lamb. As a result of this, at the end of the film, he ends up being chased out of his own farm!

 Narrator: ...but to them, he was neither ram nor wolf, but a monster...

  • The large theropod featured in the "Rite of Spring" segment of Fantasia is supposed to be a Tyrannosaurus Rex, but it looks more like an Allosaurus instead.
  • As noted by many youtube commentators of Felidae, Kong is decidedly dissimilar to the more anatomically correct cats that populate the movie, looking more like a bufallo/bull-dog hybrid than an actual cat.
  • Baloo from The Jungle Book is supposed to be a sloth bear, but he doesn't even look like one at all! The only indication that he's a sloth bear are of course, the long, sharp claws unique to that animal.


Comic Books

  • Cerebus the Aardvark looks little (if at all) like the real-life animal. He looks more like a gray pig-creature than an actual aardvark.


Literature

  • Rare plant example: The clovers in Horton Hears a Who actually look more like pink dandelions than actual clovers.
    • Also, many animals in the various Dr. Seuss books.

Live-Action TV

Newspaper Comics

  • Krazy Kat is not readily identifiable as a cat.
  • Nor is Mooch from Mutts.
  • Lampshaded in Bloom County that eventually Opus looked more like a puffin than a penguin.
  • Peanuts: More of an informed breed, but Snoopy and his brothers look nothing like real beagles.
  • Winslow from Prickly City is supposed to be a coyote pup, but he looks more like a cross between a bobcat and a Cairn Terrier.
  • Garfield looked reasonably enough like a chubby cat in the earlier comics. His more recent incarnations appear to be feline in name only.


Other

  • The University of Minnesota's mascot, Goldy Gopher doesn't look much like a gopher. Upon consultation the conclusion was he looks more like a chipmunk.
  • Most reindeer appearing in many Christmas specials look absolutely nothing like their real-life counterparts, instead looking more like mule deer or white tailed deer.


Puppets

  • The Muppets:
    • Fozzie Bear is hard to identify as a bear; he has more of a toy teddy bear look to him while other Muppet bears like Bobo look like actual bears.
    • Pepe -- if he didn't tell you he was a king prawn would you have any idea what he was?
  • Dinosaurs:
    • Earl Sinclair is said to be a Megalosaurus, but looks nothing like the actual dinosaur.
    • Likewise, his wife Fran is supposed to be an Allosaurus. Allosaurus never had that Dilophosaurus-like crest on its head.
  • An animated music video about animal families featured on Sesame Street featured a chickadee as one of the featured animals, but the chickadee looked more like an Baltimore oriole (a bright orange bird) than an actual chickadee (actual chickadees have gray bodies, black heads, and white cheeks).


Video Games

  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • Sonic himself looks little like his animal namesake. His spikes look more like styled hair and he hardly has a snout. Instead, he has a jellybean-like nose that's close to face. Same goes with Amy, Shadow, and Silver who are also hedgehogs. Also, hedgehogs aren't blue, pink, black, or silver.
    • Knuckles is an echidna, but because his spikes look more like styled hair, he hardly has a snout, and has a jellybean like nose that's close to face, it wouldn't be too hard to mistake him for a "hedgehog".
    • Due to localization, Nack's true species of a jerboa was not identified until 2018, with him being insistiently called a wolf-weasel hybrid or just a weasel.
    • Bean, due to the comics, was mistaken for a duck, but is really a woodpecker.
  • King Dedede from the Kirby game series is not readily identifiable as a penguin. Apparently Sakurai claims he's a duck.
  • Crash Bandicoot:
    • Crash and Coco don't look much like bandicoots.
    • Tiny the Tiger looks like some kind of big cat, but definitely not a tiger. He apparently was originally intended to be a Tasmanian tiger (an extinct Australian marsupial, not actually a cat) but in the game Crash of the Titans he was redesigned and looks more cat like now.
    • Dingodile has a crocodile tail but the rest of him looks like some kind of pig thing, not a dingo.
  • The Buzzy Beetle enemies (which are basically fireproof Koopa Troopas) from the Super Mario Bros. series games actually look more like hunchbacked, gray turtles than actual beetles.
  • Many, 'MANY species of Pokémon (At least, the ones that aren't given abstract species' names like the "Emotion Pokemon") are listed as animals that they either barely resemble or don't resemble at all to the point where it would be easier to just list the Pokemon that actually look like the animal they're supposed to be.
    • Diglett and Dugtrio from Pokémon, despite being both called moles, actually don't even look like moles at all! (for one thing, neither of them have bodies) Drilbur and Excadrill, however...
    • There's also Sandshrew and Sandslash who are said to be mice, but look more like armadillos or a pangolin.
    • Blastoise is said to be a shellfish but more strongly resembles a large turtle.
    • An interesting variation and double-subversion come from Rattata and Raticate. Originally, they were listed as rats in the games, but have since beeen retconned into being mice.
    • Raichu is said to be a mouse, but more strongly resembles a gerbil or possibly a jerboa.
      • And do you ever see a yellow-furred, pointy-eared, zigzagged-tailed mouse in real life? I don't think so.
    • Psyduck and Golduck are said to be ducks. Well, Psyduck kind of looks like a cartoony duck. Golduck, on the other hand, looks more like a platypus/hadrosaur hybrid. Upon closer inspection, they are indeed platypi!
    • Growlithe is said to be a puppy, but it has tiger stripes. Justified, in that Growlithe and Arcanine are loosely based off of the Shisa in Japanese folklore.
    • Slowbro is said to be a hermit crab, but it looks more like a strange cross between a hippopotamus and a salamander with a shell on its tail. Dwebble and Crustle on the other hand...
    • Cyndaquil is also said to be a mouse, but more strongly resembles an echidna.
    • Azumarill is said to be a rabbit, but, like Raichu, it looks more like a gerbil or a jerboa.
    • Wooper and Quagsire are said to be fish, but are closer in appearance to axolotls or mudpuppies.
    • Likewise, Mudkip, Swampert, and Marshtomp are also said to be fish, but more closely resemble salamanders.
    • Vigoroth is said to be a monkey, but it strongly resembles a sloth on steroids rather than any known species of monkey.
      • Vigoroth's line, which are based on sloths, is a strange case, as it's original form, Slakoth, does look like a sloth, but Vigoroth looks more like a mix of a sloth and some kind of monkey. Slaking looks like a giant sloth mixed with a gorilla.
    • Cradily is said to be a barnicle, but it looks more like a sea lily.
    • Bidoof is said to be a mouse, but it looks more like a gopher or a beaver. Oddly enough, its evolution, Bibabarel is said to be a beaver and actually looks like one.
    • Kricketot and Kricketune are said to be crickets. Though, Kricketot looks more like some sort of beetle and Kricketune looks like a mantis with a mustache.
    • Subverted with Snivy, Servine, and Serperior. While they are said to be snakes, they do have limbs (Snivy and Servine have both arms and legs and Serperior has just arms). Justified, in that prehistoric snakes did have limbs.
    • Tranquil is said to be a pidgeon, but looks more like a cross between a pheasant and a hawk.
    • Stunky and Skuntank are supposed to look like skunks, but they have cat heads instead. Also, Skuntank looks more like a honey badger than an actual skunk.
    • Shelmet is supposed to be a snail, but snails don't wear helmets. Or dress like ninjas.
  • Fire Leo from Viewtiful Joe, despite being a lion actually doesn't even look like a lion at all. Joe actually calls him a dog, but he hates being referred to as such.
  • Poochie, Yoshi's pet dog from Yoshis Island for some reason does not look like a dog at all and looks more like a platypus instead.
  • Puyo Puyo: Several mythological examples.
    • Harpy looks nothing like a harpy, instead being more akin to an angel and acting like somewhat like a siren. The manual to the SEGA Genesis version gives her a real name (Yoko Tamura) to offset this.
    • Kikimora looks like a perfectly human maid with some degree of Super Strength, rather than the emaciated creature with a reptillian snout in the traditional Russian myths.
    • Baldanders in Germanic mythology is a shapeshifter with a human torso, a goat leg, a bird leg, bird wings, and a fish tail. Baldanders in Puyo is a Hellhound in armor. Then again, they are shapeshifters..
    • Non-mythological example: Ocean Prince is supposed to be a minnow. He looks more like a piscine form of a dolphin, or a cross between a dolphin and a swordfish.

Western Animation

  • Looney Tunes:
    • The Tasmanian Devil and the Tasmanian She Devil are brown furred and look nothing like real Tasmanian Devils, which have black fur.
    • The Roadrunner also looks nothing like its real-world counterpart. Roadrunners aren't bright purple/blue nor are they the same size as a coyote.
    • Hippety Hopper, the baby kangaroo that Sylvester always mistakes for a giant mouse. In Sylvester's defense Hippety does look far more like a giant mouse than an actual kangaroo.
    • Yoyo Dodo looks nothing like a real dodo.
    • Batty, the bat in the cartoon, "The Brave Little Bat," looks nothing like a bat, and looks like a mouse with wings instead.
    • Pete Puma is supposed to be... well... a puma, but he looks more like a maneless male lion without a tuft on the end of his tail.
    • Henery Hawk doesn't look that much like a hawk.
    • Rare human examples: Bosko and his girlfriend Honey are supposed to be Blackface-looking African-American human characters, but they look more like ambiguous-looking chimpanzees.
  • Dizzy Devil (the purple Tasmanian devil), Little Beeper (the red roadrunner), and Gogo Dodo from Tiny Toon Adventures.
  • Slam Tasmanian and Rev Runner from Loonatics Unleashed
  • Bonkers: Bonkers D. Bobcat hardly looks like a real bobcat. At least he has downward-facing cheek tufts though.
  • Bungo from Jungle Junction is said to be a "bunny", but, rabbits don't have long striped tails.
  • Who Who the ring tailed lemur from the Animaniacs episode, "Back In Style" hardly looks like a real ring tailed lemur and looks vaguely like a red panda instead.
  • Evil the Cat from Earthworm Jim hardly looks like a cat at all; he looks like a white rat with pointed ears.
  • The protagonists of The Ren and Stimpy Show are not readily identifiable as a chihuahua dog and cat, respectively.
  • Arthur:
    • Arthur Read and his relatives are aardvarks, but aren't readily identifiable as such. Real aardvarks have giant noses. Arthur, D.W., and other Reads have no nose.
      • Averted in the early books, in which Arthur's enormous nose is actually the driving force of the plot.
    • Brain and the Tibble Twins are supposed to be bear cubs, but they look more like gophers than actual bears.
    • Prunella is supposed to be a rat (like Mr. Ratburn), but her ears and hair make her look more like a poodle.
  • Pete the cat from the Classic Disney Shorts is so hard to identify as a cat that in Goof Troop, A Goofy Movie, and An Extremely Goofy Movie, he was treated like a Dogface instead.
    • In Steamboat Willie, the first time Pete was portrayed as a cat, he looked somewhat reasonably like a cat and had a tail, but since the mid 1930s, he lost his tail and fell into this trope.
    • Junior, Pete's son from the Donald Duck cartoon "Bellboy Donald" is a cat, but he's not readily identifiable as such and looked more like Mickey Mouse with cat ears instead.
    • PJ, Pete's son from Goof Troop, A Goofy Movie, and An Extremely Goofy Movie, is supposed to be a cat, but in all his appearances, he was treated like a Dogface instead.
  • Chip and Skip from Camp Lazlo are supposed to be dung beetles, but look more like purple things. And, for some reason, the Lemming brothers look more like green frogs with ears than well....lemmings.
  • Alvin and The Chipmunks and The Chipettes in the animated TV shows and movies look nothing like chipmunks.
  • Wendell T. Wolf from Taz-Mania is supposed to be a Tasmanian Wolf, but he looks more like a miniture version of Wile E. Coyote.
  • Jake from My Gym Partner's a Monkey is supposed to be a spider monkey but, while obviously a primate of some kind, looks little like the actual species. Lampshaded in one episode that shows his family at the zoo at first appear to look correct but after the humans leave they remove disguises showing they actually look like Jake.
  • Dagget and Norbit from The Angry Beavers don't look an awful lot like beavers. This is constantly pointed out in the show, as most people assume that they are weasels.
  • The Tick owns a capybara named Speak (named because he once hallucinated it talking to him) who looks much more like some sort of mutant pug dog; in fact, the Tick was sure Speak was a dog until he took him to the vet.
  • Its a Big Big World:
    • Snook is supposed to be a sloth, but he looks more like some weird furry creature.
    • Bob is supposed to be a Tarmandua, a type of anteater, but looks more like a cross between Gonzo and a cat.
  • The titular Aardvark from The Ant and the Aardvark doesn't look very much like an aardvark, having blue fur, a long snout more like that of an anteater's than an actual aardvark's, and long angularly bent ears.
  • Cyrill Sneer and his son Cedric on The Raccoons are suposed to be aardvarks, but have pink fur and snouts that bend down. The show's creator did this on purpose so kids don't think that real aardvarks are greedy industrialists.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants
    • SpongeBob looks more like an artificial dish sponge than an actual sponge, even though he is supposed to be the latter.
    • Squidward Tentacles looks more like an octopus than a squid.
  • Austin from The Backyardigans is a kangaroo, but looks more like he's half aardvark and half cat.
  • Doctor Hamsterviel from Lilo and Stitch: The Series is supposed to be a hamster, but he looks more like a gerbil. However, he hates being called a gerbil.
    • Stitch himself is described as being a dog, but he actually looks more like a mutant koala instead, as pointed out by Nani about halfway through his film.
      • Though unlike other examples Stitch isn't actually intended by the creators to be a dog. Which is good considering his default form has six limbs, antennae, and dorsal spines.
  • An episode of Cyberchase involved The Hacker using a giant hamster in an exercise wheel as part of one of his evil plans to undermine the Mother Board and take over Cyberspace. However, for some reason the aforementioned hamster looked more like a capybara than an actual hamster.
  • Sherlock from Sweet Cuppin' Cakes is supposed to be a mix between a cow and a helicopter, but he looks like neither.
  • Rigby from Regular Show is supposed to be a raccoon, but for some reason he looks more like a coati (a South American relative to the raccoon) instead.
    • Margaret is supposedly a robin, but looks just like a male-colored cardinal.
    • And Eileen looks more like a midget human with a tail than a mole.
    • That ostrich and possum in "Replaced". The ostrich looks like a duck. The possum...well, he may just be the technical "possum" (the one that lives in Australia).
  • Adventures from the Book of Virtues
    • Plato, a bison, has a face that looks a bit more identical to a bear's than an actual bison's.
    • Socrates is supposed to be a bobcat, but his orange fur, black stripes and white patterns make him look more like a tiger.
  • Goo from the Gumby cartoons barely looks like a mermaid (even less so in her 1960's appearances).
  • Winslow from Cat Dog is supposed to be a mouse, but other than the ears and the fact that he lives in a hole in the wall (with a door, mind), it's not obvious.
  • One episode of The Berenstain Bears features what Brother identifies as a scarlet tanager. It reality, it looks like no existing species of bird - it has the body shape of a pileated woodpecker, except all black and with red wings.
  • All of the fish from Fish Hooks.
  • Most cartoon fireflies look nothing like their real-life counterparts, the only indication of such being a firefly is the light on its abdomen.
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