March is decidedly the longest month of the year -- even if it doesn’t have any more days than the average month, think about it. We’re just coming off February, which has two or three less days than the average month, and nothing really happens in March. There’s St. Patrick’s Day, but offices and schools aren’t giving us a day off to welcome the leprechaun. No long weekends, nothing to look forward to, just random snowstorms we’re so over and a long stretch of cold we’re desperate to break.
Basketball fans will disagree. For them, March is super exciting. Why? March Madness. The NCAA’s annual tournament pits college teams across the country against each other, and the rest of us get in on it by filling out a bracket and betting on the winners. Only the fans that actually pay attention during the rest of the year and past seasons will have a real shot at winning the thing (some groups of friends or companies will put big money on these teams), but it’s a reason to get excited for the third week of March. Something to look forward to.
It seems that there’s finally a bracket out there for those of us who don’t know how many points a foul shot is and don’t understand why the last minute of a game lasts 20. An evolutionary biologist at Arizona State University, Katie Hinde, started the bracket in 2013 and it looks like it’s going strong. Instead of basketball teams, the March Mammal Madness bracket pits animals against each other (a few non-mammals did slip in there, but we won’t discriminate), from minks and armadillos to Bengal tigers and manatees. A dandelion even made it on there -- yes, the weed.
Don’t think this is just a game, though. Actual science goes into the pairings and winners, and there are rules. Scientists consult research to determine exactly which mammal would reign supreme in each of its match-ups, and it’s not necessarily a food chain thing. “Winning” over an opponent could mean something less aggressive, like taking over a feeding location. To decide which mammal moves on, a probability percentage is decided upon and a 100-side die is rolled.
I don’t know about you guys, but I’m rooting for the tiger owl.