The Mesquite Online News - Texas A&M University-San Antonio

Biology students pit animals to the death via Twitter


By Alyssa De La O/@alyssadelao24

Biology senior Christa Leach picked the koala bear to fight it out in the biology department’s 2015 Mammals March Madness tournament.

Leach lost the virtual tournament. Her picks did not win against the other mammal competitors, but she learned a lot in the process.

Mammal March Madness is based off of the annual NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament, better known as March Madness.

The competition is part of a series of simulated death matches between mammals of the animal kingdom played out on Twitter. Matches last until the end of the month and are open to all students.

The rules of the game are simple, in that there are a total of 65 animal competitors and it’s up to the player to determine who will win in a series of simulated interspecies battles.

Animals are split into four categories of mammals: mighty mini mammals, mythical mammals, sexy beasts and critically endangered. Students are then required to use their research skills to determine who will win in a battle of mammal against mammal.

Biology professor Corinna Ross brought the concept to her biology students. Ross heard of the idea through her close friend and founder of the Mammals March Madness, Katie Hinde.

Hinde, evolutionary biology professor at Harvard University, adapted the game in 2013 when she came across Buzzfeed’s version of Animal March Madness.

Ross said Hinde was not pleased with Buzzfeed’s take on this version of Animal March Madness. She then made her own take on the tournament by looking at an encyclopedia of mammals.

The tournament is trending on Twitter, with the official tournament reaching the Elite Eight, the precursor to the fabled Final Four. The tournament will continue on Monday, with results found on the official website.

In the Elite Eight, the Tenrec will take on the Dwarf Mongoose, the Yeti clashes with the Minotaur, the Brown Bear will tango with the Elephant Seal and the Rhino will face the Tamaraw.

“It’s a nice outreach for the students to see science being talked about by really high profile scientists and it’s fun and interactive,” Ross said. “They’ve spent hours in the study room looking up the mammals that are involved and predictions as to who is going to win…. it’s been fun to watch.”

Biology senior Alexander Greig is a member of the biology club and feels this tournament is an opportunity for biology majors to research and learn more about what type of animals exist.

“It’s all just to get our nerd out,” Greig said.

To follow the virtual tournament online, follow the hashtag for the 2015 Mammals March Madness: #2015MMM on Twitter.

About the Author

Alyssa De La O
Alyssa De La O is a staff reporter for The Mesquite. A graduate of South San High Schoo, she is now pursuing Communications-Journalism bachelor's degree. Alyssa previously attended Palo Alto College, where she received her associate's degree in communications with a focus on radio and T.V. broadcast. She wrote for "The Pulse" at Palo Alto College. She has a passion for sports and Mariachi singing. She hopes to pursue a career in reporting on sports and San Antonio’s culture.

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