Similar But Different

by | Mar 27, 2018

Today’s IFOD concerns things that are similar (or similarish) but not the same.

Yams vs. Sweet Potatoes: First, neither sweet potatoes nor yams are even potatoes. Sweet potatoes are in the morning glory family and yams are related to grasses. Neither are nightshades (which potatoes are). There are a number of differences between yams and sweet potatoes and where they are grown is a big difference. According to Epicurious: “yams are grown in Africa, where they originated, and also Southeast Asia, the Caribbean, and Central America. Sweet potatoes are grown in the United States, with North Carolina leading the way in production. So at a typical supermarket, what you’re buying is an American-grown sweet potato. True yams are imported and a rare find outside of specialty grocery stores.” They look different and taste different. There are two main types of sweet potatoes in the U.S.: One has golden skin with white flesh and the other has more of a copper skin with orange flesh. Yams vary widely in appearance and can be small or as big as five feet. They often have an almost black bark-like skin and white, purple or reddish flesh.


Sweet potatoes on left, yams on right

Alligators vs. Crocodiles:  Alligators and crocodiles are  both reptiles and members of the same order: Crocodylia. But, they are members of different families and thus are different species. Among their differences are their jaws: the upper and lower jaw of alligators are different sizes while the jaws of the crocodile are the same size.  Their heads are shaped differently with alligators having more of a U-shape with crocodiles having a V-shape. Alligators and crocodiles can both survive in freshwater an seawater but alligators prefer freshwater and crocodiles prefer seawater. Alligators are less aggressive and tend run away rather than attack humans – whereas crocodiles will attack humans even when unprovoked.8crocodile-alligator-jpg-638x0_q80_crop-smart-300x208-6622323

Donkeys vs. Mules: Donkeys, also known as burros, are not horses, they are their own species: asses (Equus asinus). Donkeys have 62 chromosomes vs. 64 chromosomes found in horses. A male donkey is called a “Jack” and a female donkey is called a “Jenny.” Mules are produced by breeding a male donkey (Jack) to a female horse (mare).  If a male horse (stallion) and female donkey (Jenny) produce an offspring it is called a “Hinny” not a mule. Both Mules and Hinneys are sterile (with a few recorded exceptions). Hinnys and Mules have 63 chromosomes. Donkeys are usually smaller and sturdier than horses.  They have been used as beasts of burden for thousands of years. They are smart and capable.  Mules/Hinnys generally have some donkey characteristics and some horse characteristics, making identification of a mule troublesome at times.


Dolphins vs. Porpoises. Both Dolphins and Porpoises are both air-breathing marine mammals but are actually different species.  They are as different as cows and horses and cats and dogs according the encyclopedia of Marine Mammals. While dolphins have elongated “mouths” or “beaks,” porpoises have shorter, smaller mouths. Dolphins have have a curved or hooked dorsal fin, while porpoises’ dorsal fin is more triangular in shape. Dolphins’ shape is leaner looking while porpoises are more portly. The teeth of the two species differ as do their communication: dolphins vocalize in a range audible to the human ear while porpoise communication is at frequencies to high for humans to hear.


Top is a porpoise, bottom is a dolphin

Chickpeas vs. Garbanzo Beans: Garbanzo beans and Chickpeas are the same thing. The name chickpea derives from French while garbanzo derives from Spanish.  What this delicious, nutritious legume is called is influenced by where in the U.S. you are and the linguistic background of the area.


Garbanzos and Chickpeas mixed together!


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