By Arianna Tabankin
As the month of March rolled in, tensions rose, excitement built, and hopes climbed for the tournament of the year: March Mammal Madness. Yes, you read that correctly. This fun-filled fur fest pits animals from all different species up against each other to battle it out until the best one is the only animal left standing. Brackets are created after a year’s lineup has been released in order to cast guesses on which animal people think is going to win. Let’s just say, the competition can get intense.
Of course, animals are not physically fighting each other in each round; rather, battles are simulated and outcomes are predicted based on the characteristics of species competing. Animals are judged on temperament, weaponry, armor, body mass, running speed, fight style, physiology, motivation, and environment to make the most accurate predictions. This year, there were four different categories of species: Tricksy Taxonomy, Of Myths and Monsters, Sea Beasties, and Red, In Fur. Within these categories, animals unleashed their greatest strengths on each other until only one of each category was left. Then the semifinals matched Red, in Fur vs. Tricksy Taxonomy and Sea Beasties vs. Of Myths and Monsters. Semifinalist winners competed in one final round to become the ultimate mammal champion.
Within these four categories, species are given ranks based on those characteristics mentioned previously, and this can be used as a guide for predicting winners. However, don’t be fooled by an animal’s ranking – upsets can occur where a vastly lower-ranked species beats a higher ranking animal. Sometimes, even a cat can be an underdog! March Mammal Madness can get crazy!
Besides being exciting, MMM has some exceptionally great impacts. BHHS Biology teacher Mrs. Brocia states, “contributors choose endangered/threatened species and highlight human impact on diverse habitats and species.” This event brings a lot of awareness to biological issues created by humans, and it especially educates younger populations: “The more students know about animals and the diverse habitats around the world, the more we will all work together to protect it.” Also, MMM is highly educational about biodiversity because strategizing and creating the best lineups requires researching the animals involved. By doing this, participants are learning more about the animals and their ecosystems. March Mammal Madness relays information in a fun way that gets people of all ages interested and involved.
Mrs. Brocia loves March Mammal Madness because it is a “fun, silly enrichment activity.” When she incorporates it into her classes, her students learn a lot about biodiversity that the curriculum would otherwise not have enough time to address. This year, she rooted for the red kangaroo to win, and she has successfully predicted the champion for the past three years (a tough feat to beat).