The biological mammal version of the NCAA March Madness brackets is more popular than ever.
Mammal March Madness started in 2013 when the founder, Harvard evolutionary biology professor Katie Hinde, came across the post "Animal March Madness" on Buzzfeed. She was excited, loving NCAA March Madness brackets and loving animals. Yet, after reading it she was disappointed. The way animals won their brackets at Buzzfeed solely on the "cuteness of their little faces and the general feeling in the room when their name was mentioned."
It was only 16 species -- March Madness is 64. And it was whichever species was the cutest. There's no science to that!
She decided to create her own Mammal March Madness and the rest is history. Hinde teamed up with a few other evolutionary biologists and every year they pick 64 animal competitors that hypothetically fight. The winner of the bracket then advances to the next round.
The animals win the fight in their brackets due to careful research on the biological makeup of the animal. They assess the animal's strengths and weaknesses to see which animal would come out on top if they fought in real life. The winners of each bracket are announced on Twitter every evening after the match (#2015MMM).
The Mammal March Madness isn't just a fun game. It is also a great tool to teach people about animal species they may not know about.
"It's become this incredible vehicle for teaching about science, natural history and conservation," Hinde says.
This year the animal competitor divisions have been altered to include the Mighty Mini Animals, the Sexy Beasts, Critically Endangered Red List Species, and Mythical Animals. Mammal March Madness 2015 will lead to some amazing battles. The outcomes of these divisions will be based on the competitor's temperament, weaponry, armor, body mass, fight style, and random fun facts.
According to the Mammal March Madness referees;
Some random error has been introduced into calculating battle outcome & the amount of that error is scaled to the disparity in rankings between combatants.
That's why some small animals may beat out the big guys just like in the real NCAA tournament.
The first match-up this season is with the pygmy jerboa and the bumblebee bat so go ahead and fill out your brackets, join some betting pools and see which one comes out on top.
All images provided by Mammal March Madness