Holy shit I think I just found the greatest thing ever- March Mammal Madness (MMM). Now, I know you’re probably sitting there saying to yourself, “but Thomas, what about sliced bread, or electricity, or those extra long shoe horns from Ikea (aka the OMSORGs, only $1.99)”, and while, yes, the OMSORG is probably the greatest modern invention, it can’t hold a light to MMM. In honour, or maybe as a parody, of the NCAA March Madness Tournament, the MMM was created four years ago by Katie Hinde, an Associate Professor at Arizona State University School of Human Evolution & Social Change. The MMM is a competition where mammals duke it out in simulated battles, with outcomes based on temperament, weaponry, armour, body mass, running speed, fight style, physiology, and motivation, all supported by scientific literature.
Over the past four years the tournament has seen elephants, hyenas, sumatran rhinos, and wolves take home the championship. This year, 67 animals (there are 4 animals fighting it out for a wildcard spot) are vying for ultimate mammal supremacy. I’d list them all out, but there is honestly just too many, so instead I’m just going to talk about some notable entries. The tournament is broken into four divisions: Adjective Animals, Coulda Shoulda, Desert Adapted, and Two Animals, One Mammal. So here’s a breakdown of each:
Desert Adapted- This is pretty self explanatory, right? In this one we’ve got the Gila Monster (the only non-mammalian contestant who’s just there “slumming” it, and is included because he won Heckler of the Year), Honey Badger, Meerkats, and Jerboa.
Adjective Animals– This division is all about animals with adjectives in their names. Some notables here include the Screaming Hairy Armadillo, Spectacled Bear, and Burrowing Bettong.
Coulda Shoulda– This division includes animals that lost in upsets from previous years. This division has some of the coolest participants, as it includes a Neanderthal Hunting Party, Dire Wolves, Pegasus, and the Great Sphinx.
Two Animals, One Mammal– This division is full of animals with two names. Fighting for a chance at fame and fortune* are the Bear Cats, Grasshopper Mice, Kangaroo Rats, and Spider Monkeys.
This tournament seriously seems like a lot of fun- and I’m basing this opinion solely on previous bouts. For example, one year the dhole lost to the binturong because he ate too much babirusa the night before, and the gut passage time of wild canids is 24-48 hours, so he was still too full to fight. In another fight, a stoat momentarily distracted a wolverine with crazy Cirque du Soleil style moves, only to then be murdered by a neck bite a second later. So yeah, it hits that sweet spot of both super sciencey and completely ridiculous- a sweet spot I love.
The entire tournament plays out over twitter, so follow the #2017MMM hashtag or the @2017MMMletsgo account, with daily results being uploaded onto Katie Hinde’s blog, Mammals Suck… Milk! The Wild Card fight is on March 6th at 7PM, with the first fights of Round 1 starting 2 days later at 8:30PM (Eastern time zones). With the exception of the Neanderthal Hunting Party, all fights are one on one.
For more information and the full bracket, go to Hinde’s blog. For more information on the participants, go here and here. Honestly I just hope you’re all as excited about this as I am, so get ready to follow along with us. Personally, I’m kind of rooting for the Neanderthal Hunting Party, although history, evolution, and the fact that I’m sitting here in a house, on a laptop connected with billions of people over something call the internet, might prove that we’ve already won, but I digress. More than the hunting party though, I think it’d be nice if the Giraffe took the prize. Or, in a Marvel Comics Squirrel Girl-esque upset, the Red Squirrel. I guess only time will tell.
*Note: winners do not win fortune, and only win moderate fame