As It Happens

Mammals both mythical and real face off in online March Madness

There's just one question hanging over this year's March Madness tournament: can anyone take down the powerhouse yellow-bellied marmot?
Which is the cuter mammal? The mongoose (left) or the java mouse-deer? (Mongoose photo: Warren Little/Getty Images; Mouse-deer: Jorge Guerrero/AFP/Getty Images)

There's just one question hanging over this year's March Madness tournament: can anyone take down the powerhouse yellow-bellied marmot?

If you thought we were going to say "the Kentucky Wildcats," we should tell you we're not talking about that March Madness. We're talking about the wildly popular Mammal March Madness -- which is happening right now. On the Internet. It's a tournament in which, this year, a Visayan warty pig can face off against a unicorn.

The online evolutionary event is the brainchild of biologist Katie Hinde, an associate professor at Harvard University. Since she started the list in 2013, it has grown in popularity. She sees it both as an opportunity for a little fun and for learning.

"We've got a lot of very familiar species and others people may not be familiar with," Hinde tells As It Happens host Carol Off. "It's a chance for them to learn about animals and their biology and their ecosystems."

This year's current Mammal March Madness bracket: "Mighty Mini Mammals," "Sexy Beasts," "Mythical Mammals" and "Critically Endangered." (Courtesy of Katie Hinde for As It Happens)

Understandably, Mammal March Madness gets very competitive. Last year, when the beaver was beaten by the Tibetan macaque — a monkey that throws its enemies off cliffs — many Canadian participants were outraged.

Previous Mammal March Madness winners include the hyena (2014) and the elephant (2013).

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.