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Funny Animal Anatomy

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Left: A Tasmanian devil. Right: A devil from Tasmania.

The process of anthropomorphization of an animal character usually involves a lot of implicit decisions of what should be made human-like, and what should stay the way it is. One thing is certain, though, things will not be realistic. On the other hand, some breaks from reality are less acceptable than others...

Sometimes, body organs are shifted or added to funny animals, seemingly in a way to increase identification through anthropomorphism. Some other times, it's just a stylistic convention, used so the creature in question is more easily recognized than if it was drawn realistically.

Though Funny Animal Anatomy should not be noted under Artistic License – Biology, since it's never meant to be serious, some egregious decisions are made in this sense, for either stylistic or anthropomorphic reasons. Some are so omnipresent they even are tropes unto themselves.

Just remember that Tropes Are Tools and more often than not these are invoked simply because it's more interesting, appealing, or expected to the viewer to utilize them and can make storytelling easier in some cases.

The Law of Conservation of Detail (often used with the Rule of Personification Conservation) makes it easier to skim over those things if it's not relevant to the story, and well, sometimes you simply want to avoid drifting gazes or indeed Squick regardless of who the target audience is.

This trope page and its child tropes apply to animals on the Sliding Scale of Anthropomorphism from Nearly Normal Animal to Funny Animal. Does not apply to Beast Man, as characters who fall under that trope are more human than animal and thus should follow human anatomy naturally. If they don't refer to Bizarre Alien Biology.

This trope page is meant to catalog only examples which do not fit the child tropes below, are specializations of these tropes, or are especially egregious.

Sub-Trope of Artistic License – Biology.


    List of Common Examples in Media 
  • Critters which are faceless, or have their features in non-standard human places, usually have a full face drawn somewhere else:
    • Octopuses almost always will have faces — complete with Cartoony Eyes — placed on their huge foreheads. As a result, what appears to be a real octopus' mouth becomes a cartoon octopus' anus!
    • The same happens to squids, but to a lesser extent, since they normally keep their eyes where they originally are (near the tentacles).
    • Starfish usually have faces (eyes and mouth) on the back of their bodies.
  • Not only birds, but sometimes also toads, bugs, earthworms, et cetera... will have teeth. Especially egregious when dealing with invertebrates.
    • Conversely, constrictor snakes are often portrayed as being toothless or at least lacking visible teeth. Anacondas, boas, and pythons actually have sharp, needle-like teeth that point backwards and are used for gripping onto prey.
  • Insects and arachnids also sometimes have anthro mouths, teeth and chelicera (if an arachnid) or mandibles (if an insect), making one wonder what those are for, if the teeth will hold and cut the food anyway.
    • They are also usually depicted with only two eyes (in Real Life, insects usually have five eyes and arachnids usually have eight eyes, although the additional ones are smaller)
  • The borderline Squicky case of "male cows". Yes, bulls with udders.
  • It's a recurring joke in cartoons for animals, walking upright, being mysteriously devoid of any genitalia whatsoever (especially with males). In a similar way, cartoon animals almost always lack an anus, even when it should be clearly visible below the tail.
  • Mammalian snouts are commonly portrayed as simply noses with a normal mouth underneath. This is especially common with pig snouts or dog muzzles.
  • A lot of dogs and other animals with non-retractable claws tend to be drawn without their claws showing in cartoons. Only cats (except cheetahs, which have semi-retractile claws), fossas, and many civet species have fully retractable claws. If the animal has non-retractable or semi-retractable claws, they should be showing at least a little bit. But in cartoonland, most animals with claws are drawn without them showing, even those with non-retractable claws.
    • In the case of birds, ducks, geese, and other web-footed birds are the most likely to be drawn without claws showing.
    • On a related note: In a lot of cartoons, comics, and video games, humans and other primates tend to be drawn without their fingernails or toenails showing.
    • And speaking of cat claws, many works depict feline claws as being brown or black in colour, while in reality all feline species have white claws.
    • Crocodilians will always be portrayed having a claw on each finger and toe, when in real life only three fingers and three toes possess claws.
    • On another related note, it's possible for cats and dogs to have mixed paw pad colors; some pads being pink and others dark, even on the same foot. In dogs, this can be related to them having claws of different colors. This almost never occurs in animation, even if the cat/dog is given a white sock marking.
  • Even though snakes and fish (except sharks) can't blink in Real Life, they are shown being able to blink in cartoons anyway.
  • Owls and most other birds can't move their eyes (Great Cormorants are an exception), but this fact is ignored in cartoons and they are able to move their eyes just like humans.
  • Cartoon animals tend to be drawn with a head, muzzle, beak, or bill shape that is different from what it is in real life:
    • Ducks are usually drawn with bills that are wider than that of real ducks, often being as wide as a real platypus's bill.
    • Larger cat species are often drawn with longer muzzles than what they would have in real life, about as long as that of a dog with an average muzzle length, especially in older cartoons. Big cats may have longer muzzles than small cats, but their muzzles aren't as long as that of a mesocephalic (of normal muzzle length) dog.
    • Rats and even mice are sometimes drawn with muzzles as long as that of dogs with an average muzzle length, longer than that of a real rat or a real mouse.
    • Alligators are often drawn with narrower jaws than those of real alligators, often shaped more like a crocodile's. On the other hand, some species of crocodiles have wider or narrower jaws than others, but it depends on where they live.
  • Cartoon rabbits and hares are usually drawn with noses shaped more like either cat noses and even dog noses than real rabbit noses, which are dry and slit-shaped.
    • Cartoon reindeer are usually drawn with noses like dogs' noses. White-tailed deer, black-tailed deer, and mule deer may have noses that look somewhat like a dog's nose, but reindeer/caribou, moose, and elk noses look nothing like dog noses.
    • A lot of cartoon tomcats, especially Buffoonish Tomcats, are drawn large, bulbous noses.
    • Much like rabbits, cartoon rodents are often drawn with noses looking more like cat noses or dog noses. Particularly squirrels and chipmunks, which both have noses looking not much different than those of rabbits.
    • Walruses, bovids, and even apes and monkeys are sometimes drawn with noses shaped more like a dog's or a cat's, rather than just two nostrils.
  • Beavers are usually drawn with white teeth even though real beavers have yellow or orange teeth.
  • Cheetahs are quite often depicted with a leopard style rosette fur pattern while lacking their characteristic facial "tear" stripes. This is probably due to artists being more familiar with leopards (and jaguars, which do resemble them) and erroneously generalizing their characteristics. Real cheetahs have solid round black spots and stripes on their tails and sides of the muzzle. Although king cheetahs, a color variation of cheetah, are known to have rosettes.
    • Similarly, leopards and jaguars are sometimes drawn with solid spots, and the latter is often lacking dots in the center of their rosettes which distinguishes them from leopards.
    • Black leopards and jaguars (aka black panthers) are always drawn without spots, mainly because the spots are almost completely invisible unless under light.
  • Female reindeer are often portrayed as being antlerless, while males retain theirs all-year long. In real life, both genders have antlers (and therefore the only deer species to have that quality), and that only castrated males will retain their antlers even in the winter.
  • Rabbits are often drawn with footpads, which real rabbits do not have.
  • Most animated giraffes are portrayed with pink tongues. In real life, a giraffe's tongue is black. Also, giraffes in animation are often drawn with necks longer and more flexible than those in real life.
  • Most cartoon elephants will often appear to be Indian elephants even in African settings. They will also only have three toes on each foot.
  • Monkeys appearing in most animated works will almost always be depicted with prehensile tails (a trait exclusive to monkeys living in the Western Hemisphere), especially if the monkeys are of the "generic" type as opposed to a specific species, even if said works take place in the Eastern Hemisphere.
    • Also, monkeys appearing in many animated works are often depicted with longer arms than legs (In Real Life, monkeys usually have legs that are a little longer than their arms.) and a stance more like an ape than like any real monkey, especially if they are of the "generic" type.
  • Cartoon parrots, toucans, owls, woodpeckers, and cuckoos will always be drawn with feet that have three claws in the front and a fourth in the back, instead of two claws in the front and two in the back. Alternatively, they may have two toes in front and only one in the back (which is accurate at least for the three-toed woodpecker).
    • Ostriches may be drawn with three or four toes on their feet like most birds, when real ostriches have only two. And when they do get portrayed with two toes, they will always have a claw on each toe instead of just one on the larger inner toe.
  • Snakes in animated works will all be portrayed as egg-layers. Including vipers, rattlesnakes, garter snakes, boas, and anacondas, despite the fact these snakes are live-bearers in real life.
  • Cartoon octopuses and squids often have a siphon on each side of their heads as if they are ears. Real cephalopods only have a single siphon. In Japanese media they will have their siphon placed underneath their eyes as if it was some sort of tube-like mouth.
  • Most animated passerine birds (unless they are corvids) will always either look like sparrows or be colored like them.
  • Most animated fish (not counting the realistic-looking ones) will look absolutely nothing like actual fish species.
  • Many cartoon pelicans have oversized beak pouches even when they're empty.
  • Many prehistoric animals are portrayed inaccurately. For example, many theropods are portrayed having pronated hands when the palms actually faced each other like a person about to clap, plant-eating dinosaurs are shown having elephantine feet when this wasn't the case in real life, feathered dinosaurs like Velociraptor are shown as being covered in scales, pterosaurs are shown as bipedal and scaly when actually they were quadrupeds covered in hair-like pycnofibres, plesiosaurs are depicted with snake-like necks instead of rigid necks with limited flexibility, basal synapsids like Dimetrodon will have mostly reptilian features despite being ancestral to mammals, the saber-toothed cat Smilodon will look more like a modern big cat with saber teeth rather than having the bulky body and short tail it had in real life, and mammoths will be all be portrayed as woolly regardless of species. In many cases, this can be because the information was not available at the time.
  • Whiskers, common to many mammals, are details that can disappear with simplified art, but for some unfathomable cultural reason they are considered a necessary identifying feature of animals like cats, rabbits, mice, and rats more than other animals that have them, such as dogs and foxes. Often this is the easiest way to tell cats from dogs in the same work.
  • Human characters in some shows and comics are drawn with hands that look like paws, in other words, their fingers don't taper the way real human fingers do. Though, that could be because some artists have a hard time drawing hands.
  • Koalas are always drawn with only one thumb, when they have two in real lifenote .
  • Anteaters tend to have mouths at the base of their snouts, instead of at the tip. Their snouts will also be flexible like an elephant's trunk. Anteaters will also be portrayed with large ears, possibly due to being confused with aardvarks.
  • Alligators are usually drawn with interlocking teeth like crocodiles, and conversely, crocodiles will often be depicted with a gator-like overbite. However, this may be because of artists confusing the two crocodilians.
  • Crocodilians are also portrayed as being able to stick their tongues out of their mouths. Alligators can do this to some degree, but crocodiles cannot as their tongues are fused to the roof of their mouths.
  • Sperm whales are often depicted with a wider head, shovel-like jaws instead of narrow jaws, upper teeth, belly lines similar to those of baleen whales, and the blowhole located on the top of the head instead of the left side of the snout.
  • Bats in fiction often suffer the same problem as pterosaurs: being depicted as bipedal instead of quadrupedal like in real life. They will also sometimes lack the thumb on their wings or have three small fingers similar to a pterosaur.
  • Orcas sometimes have their eyes on their eyespots.
  • Skunks, if their odor is brought up at all, will often produce it from their tail rather than the glands near their rear, often as a way to avoid Squick and having things devolve into Toilet Humor.
  • Chameleons are often drawn without the joined eyelids that cover most part of their eyes.
  • Many cartoon hippos are drawn with square or marshmallow-shaped canines that sometimes protrude out of the mouth instead of being hidden underneath lips.
    • Similarly, many rodents are often portrayed with their incisors exposed. Some like gophers and naked mole rats have mouths like this, but others like rats and squirrels have their teeth hidden. Lagomorphs are also portrayed with their incisors sticking out, even though they shouldn't be visible.
    • Snakes and lizards are often drawn with their teeth sticking out of their mouths. Some venomous snakes may show their fangs if they're large enough, but squamates in general have their teeth hidden inside their mouths.
  • Cartoon rhinos will sometimes appear to be Indian rhinos, with the single horn being as long as the front horn of an African species.
  • Frogs and toads will be shown being able to move their heads, despite having very short and stiff necks.
  • Cartoon praying mantises will always be drawn with their front legs ending at the sickle-like tibia, usually lacking the feet at the end.
  • Leeches are usually drawn with a Lamprey Mouth, even though real leeches have a much less pronounced mouth. Alternatively, they may have a tube-like mouth instead.
  • Ruminants are almost always depicted with upper incisors, even though they lack these in real life.
  • Sharks and other fish are often drawn with some of their fins missing. Usually only the pectoral, dorsal, and caudal (tail) fins are shown while the pelvic, adipose, and anal fins are left out.
  • Pythons, anacondas, and boa constrictors are often depicted with fangs, despite the fact they are non-venomous.
    • Venomous snakes are invariably depicted having large fangs. Some like the Gaboon viper have fangs like these, but most have small fangs.
  • Baleen whales are usually drawn with a single blowhole like a toothed whale. In real life, they have two blowholes.
  • Iguanas and geckos are often depicted with long and sticky tongues like chameleons. Frogs are also frequently depicted with long chameleon-like tongues, while in reality their tongues are somewhat shorter.
  • Cartoon sheep, goats, mongooses, toads, and octopuses usually have humanlike eyes, rather than the horizontal pupils they have in real life.
    • Foxes are usually drawn with round pupils like most canines, when real foxes have cat-like vertical pupils.
    • Big cats are often drawn with vertical pupils like their smaller relatives, instead of the round pupils they have in real life.
  • Gorillas and other non-human apes having hands that form into fists. In real life, they have longer fingers and shorter thumbs, so they can't form a proper fist like a human can.


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    Comic Books 
  • Cerebus the Aardvark eventually justified the title character's Barbie Doll Anatomy. Cerebus is a hermaphrodite, so his male genitalia is hidden inside his female outer genitalia when he's not "in position".
  • The Mobian aquatic creatures, particularly the fish, in Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics) have legs and humanoid bodies to make them more anthropomorphic.

    Comic Strips 
  • In Berkely Breathed's Bloom County days, the community is abuzz upon learning that one of them is actually female (after much paranoia and speculation, it later turns out to be Rosebud). Portnoy, in a panic, checks himself in the bathroom only to cry, "No dice! Comic strip animals aren't anatomically correct!!"
  • Heathcliff, in both the comics and the animated series, has a large, bulbous black nose.
  • The human characters of Peanuts have hands that look like paws.

    Films — Animation 
  • The weasels in The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and House of Mouse (Yes, even House of Mouse) have unusually long muzzles for weasels, being about as long as an average dog's muzzle. Real weasels' muzzles are a little longer than a small cat's muzzle, but shorter than a dog's muzzle. Also, many of the animals in the Mr. Toad segment are drawn with human-like fingernails in close up shots even though they belong to species that don't have human-like fingernails in Real Life.
  • Rabbits in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit have noses shaped like pig snouts.
  • Anchor from Finding Nemo is a hammerhead shark whose mouth for some reason is located where his neck would normally be.
  • The Tyrannosaurus and Maiasaura in You Are Umasou have small fins or scutes on their backs making them look like Godzilla. Also, the Chilantaisaurus has horns that are shaped like those of a bull instead of stubby horns.
  • The dragonflies in Mickey and the Beanstalk have beaks like birds.
  • Dave the Octopus from Penguins of Madagascar, who has cartoony eyes, a mouth in front of his face instead of a beak beneath his head, two siphons which look like ears, and is purple. This is especially jarring since every other octopus in the film looks comparatively realistic (no mouth, for starters).
  • Averted by the various background animals from the "Circle of Life" opening of The Lion King (1994) as they are designed realistically. This is in contrast to the cast of characters, which are more cartoonish.

    Video Games 
  • Lampshaded in Crash Bandicoot: 'You don't even look like a bandicoot!'
  • In Hollow Knight, the characters are anthropomorphic bugs and other invertebrates, with some of them having several anatomical differences from the insects they were based on due to stylization. For example, several beetle characters, including the protagonist, have horn-like appendages on the top of their heads inspired by the giant mandibles of male stag beetles. In real life, such mandibles are located in their jaws instead.
  • The Sonic the Hedgehog series has some very prominent examples. While characters like Tails and Rouge the Bat can at least be identified as to which species they are, most other characters look nothing like their species. You probably wouldn't guess Sonic was a hedgehog unless you'd been told so.
    • Charmy Bee has a small mammalian nose despite being an insect.

  • A few of Zoophobia's animal characters have this, particularly the felines.

    Western Animation 
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • Patrick has his face (eyes and mouth) on one of his arms. Lampshaded in one episode, where Neptune puts his face where it should anatomically be — on his back.
      • In reality a starfish has an oral and an aboral surface rather than a true front or back. Usually their oral surface is towards whatever surface the starfish is on and the aboral surface faces away from it. Their mouth is in the centre of the oral surface, their anus is off-centre on the aboral surface, and their "eyes" (really photosensitive spots) are at the end of each of their arms. So Neptune's "anatomical correction" is still not correct.
    • Squidward has lips and a big nose (and huge white teeth!), rather than a beak underneath his body like real octopuses. He also has a clearly distinct head, neck, and torso, unlike real octopuses. A more obvious sign being that he has six tentacles instead of eight. This gives him a more humanlike appearance (the four tentacles on bottom are normally paired up to work as legs).
    • The protagonist differs from real sea sponges given that he has a face, limbs and internal organs. He's also yellow and rectangular in shape, like an ordinary dishwashing sponge.
    • Sandy has a nose more like a cat's than a real squirrel's, and her incisors stick out of her mouth like a beaver's.
    • Mr. Krabs only has four limbs (two legs and two claws), even though true crabs normally have ten (eight legs and two claws). His shell should also be segmented, even though the times he's been shown without clothes it was completely smooth.
    • The generic fish characters' fins look more like legs and arms, other than not having feet or hands at the end. Other than Flats the Flounder, they also are rounded with eyes in human-like positions, instead of being flatter with an eye on either side of them.
  • Family Guy just barely averts this trope in one episode: Peter develops penis envy when he learns that his son is very well endowed. His friend Brian (a dog) consoles him by saying "Mine goes inside me when I stand up, how do you think I feel?"
  • Lampshaded in the Looney Tunes short Duck Soup to Nuts: the cartoon opens with Daffy Duck in a pond, filing his nails amid a group of realistic-looking mallards: "I kinda stand out in a crowd, don't I?"
  • Phineas and Ferb: Perry the Platypus has a bill that looks as narrow as a real duck's bill except in direct front-view shots.
  • Looney Tunes:
    • Tweety the canary, Porky Pig, and Petunia Pig have heads that are shaped like human heads.
    • Sylvester's nose is large and bulbous, as are the noses of a sizable number of other Looney Tunes tomcats.
  • Tiny Toon Adventures, in addition to imitating the designs of the original Looney Tunes, had an elephant character in one episode. The animators could not decide whether his mouth was below his trunk (normal) or in the tip of his trunk (... not so normal.)
  • American Dad! has Klaus the goldfish who can blink and has eyelids. He also doesn’t have to breathe underwater; only some part of his body has to touch water, and even then, it can be any liquid.
  • Beavers in The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That! have the correct color teeth (which is orange).
  • Similar to the above, Boss Beaver from Timon & Pumbaa has yellow teeth like a real beaver.
  • Maurice, of Madagascar and The Penguins of Madagascar, is meant to be an aye-aye. Real aye-ayes are ... not that cuddly-looking. Interestingly, All Hail King Julien features aye-ayes that look a lot more like real aye-ayes and a plot reason for Maurice's unusual appearance; he's The Chosen One of the Aye-ayes who looks unusually beautiful due to a birth defect. As it turns out, not even Maurice knew he was an Aye-aye until a physical revealed it.
  • The aardvarks from Arthur, including the title character, look absolutely nothing like actual aardvarks at all. This is a case of Art Evolution, as the first book, Arthur's Nose, had Arthur look a little more like an aardvark, but over subsequent books changed to his current appearance.
  • Many of the equine characters of Peppa Pig don’t have manes, including Pedro Pony, Zoe Zebra, and Delphine Donkey.
    • Suzy Sheep and Carol Cow have their ears pointed up instead of sideways.
    • Mrs. Cow averts this trope.
    • It is entirely possible Suzy Sheep is a haired sheep rather than a wooly one.
  • Scooby-Doo's character designer deliberately neglected to give the titular character the melanistic mask commonly situated on dogs' faces. He was also given a hunched back, tiny chin, and a large cat's tail: the antithesis of a pedigree Great Dane.
  • Stimpy from Ren & Stimpy has human-style fingernails on his hands.
  • While the character designs in the My Little Pony franchise are usually anatomically correct, the characters in the G3.5 cartoon have strange cone-shaped legs and bulbous circular heads. This design choice sparks the ire of most members of the show's fanbase, whom are used to the Friendship is Magic designs which are more realistic than the G3.5 designs but more cartoonish than the other previous gens.
  • An orange tomcat with black ears in one Tom and Jerry cartoon has an unusually long muzzle for a small cat and a muzzle shape that would be more appropriate for a lion. Not to mention, tomcats are generally either orange or black, due to having only one X chromosome (females are normally the only calicos, barring point mutations and polyploidy).
  • Finn and other human and Demihuman characters in Adventure Time have hands that look like paws.
  • The majority of Classic Disney Shorts and Disney Animated Canon rabbits and hares have either doglike or catlike (or in Oswald's case, jellybean-shaped) noses. However, Max Hare and the four girl bunnies in the Silly Symphony "The Tortoise and the Hare" have "v"-shaped noses like real rabbits and hares.
  • The Redwall cartoon show made Badrang look much more like a wolf than a stoat.
  • The alligators of Sitting Ducks have underbellies that match the color of their skin. Also, while their snouts are correctly shaped, their teeth are hidden inside their mouths (with the exception of one upper fang).
  • Many of the mammal characters in Brandy & Mr. Whiskers are drawn with large and bulbous noses, most notably Mr. Whiskers and Ed.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Snowball II as well as the cats owned by the Crazy Cat Lady have mouths shaped more like the humans in the show complete with the Groening-styled overbite. This gets odd when compared to Scratchy, who is supposed to be a cartoon cat In-Universe and yet has a mouth shaped more like a real cat's. Even odder in that more realistic-looking cats have appeared in some episodes, particularly the cat Moe kisses in "Dumbbell Indemnity".
    • Pokey and the other guinea pigs from "The War of Art" have faces that look more like humans with cat-like noses, rather than those of actual guinea pigs.
    • There are instances where the show averts this by featuring realistic-looking animals, such as Stampy the African elephant from "Bart Gets an Elephant" or Bluella the blue whale from "The Squirt and the Whale".
  • Regular Show: Rigby is supposed to be a North American raccoon, but strongly resembles a Crab Eating Raccoon or a Coati, both of which only have a short brown layer of fur, and more slender bodies. Rigby's lack of a proper face mask has been explained by the fact that he has huge Cartoony Eyes, and is occasionally shown blinking where he has black eyelids. This is consistent with his more humanoid looking brother Don too. Rigby's lack of resemblance to his real life counterpart has been Played for Laughs on multiple occasions — he comments on the black circles around his eyes as being 'his thing', when he and Mordecai encounter realistic animal versions of themselves Rigby is drawn as a standard gray and black raccoon (present on a comic cover too), and in an early episode, one of the enemies says to him 'what are you supposed to be?'.
  • What the hell even is Goofy supposed to be? He's allegedly a dog, but looks more like something between a walrus and a horse. Not to mention, his friend Micky has a pet dog, an actual non-anthropomorphic one, named Pluto, and Goofy has a pet dog of his own in one short named Bowser.