It’s bracket time here in the States, so I’ve decided to put together a bracket featuring sixty-four different species, as part of a just-for-fun game I’ll be running on my Facebook and Instagram pages. I’ll ask folks to vote on their favorite animals in head-to-head showdowns, as we whittle the field down to a last four, and eventually, a “champion.”
And before you ask, no, it’s not an original idea. Dr. Katie Hinde has been running a “March Mammal Madness” bracket for several years, and of course, Fat Bear Week has taken the world by storm with bracket-style fun in recent years. This is just an excuse to share my photos of various species, present facts about the participants, and get people hyped about different animals (some of which they may not be familiar with… though I tried not to get too obscure).
The four regions aren’t broken down geographically. I opted for different themes, in part to give what may be less popular species a fighting chance to go far. The groupings are as follows:
Just a Salad, Please: Herbivores
Not Strange, Just Different: Animals with strange or unique features or adaptations.
Don’t Hate Us Because We’re Beautiful: Pretty beasts.
We’ll Have the Meats: Definitely not herbivores!
The March Wilderness! bracket is below. If you want, feel free to save/print a copy and make your predictions… again, it’s just for fun! The tournament will be conducted on my Facebook page, via very informal votes. I will try to update this post, the blog, and the bracket with the winners following each round.
Here’s the updated bracket after the March 25 games:
I’m not going to give away my “last four” picks or my champion right now… I’ll save those for the end. I do think much of the vote will favor popular, larger animals, one reason I tried to pair a lot of the predators and large herbivores together. I also think that patterns I’ve noticed over the years with my audience will play out here: namely that birds (except for owls), primates, and creepy crawlies don’t get much love from my followers. Maybe that’s one reason I (accidentally, I assure you) didn’t include any monkeys.
There are some intriguing matchups, but it’s hard to find real dark horses (in fact, there are no equids in the bracket). I think the toughest/most intriguing first-round matchups are as follows:
Puma vs. African Wild Dog (Meats Region)
Scarlet Macaw vs. Bare-nosed Wombat (Salad Region)
Marvelous Spatuletail vs. Southern White-faced Owl (Beautiful Region)
White Rhinoceros vs. Giant Armadillo (Just Different Region)
Macaw/Wombat went to Overtime. The others weren’t all that close.
My picks for the most overrated seeds in the bracket (while acknowledging that I put it together):
Shag-carpet Caterpillar (6)
The caterpillar lost in Round One. Orca and Hippo both fell in Round 3 to lower seeds.
My picks for the most underrated seeds:
Aplomado Falcon (15)
American Badger (12)
Bare-nosed Wombat (11)
Resplendent Quetzal (10)
Badger, Wombat and Quetzal all reached the final sixteen! Falcon lost in the first round.
Here’s the schedule I’ll try to adhere to every day on Facebook and Instagram. Folks will vote, and the next morning I’ll tally the results and note the winner here in bold green for all those playing at home.
ROUND OF 64
Friday, March 18:
(1) African Elephant vs. (16) Least Pygmy Squirrel – Final Score: 27-13
(3) Short-beaked Echidna vs. (14) Honduran White Bat – Final Score: 23-19
(7) Black-and-white Owl vs. (10) Saddle-billed Stork – Final Score: 25-15
(2) Orca vs. (15) Secretary Bird – Final Score: 29-11
Saturday, March 19:
(5) Southern Giraffe vs. (12) Kirk’s Dik-dik – Final Score: 12-23
(7) Boat-billed Heron vs. (10) Resplendent Quetzal – Final Score: 9-27
(6) Morpho Butterfly vs. (11) Dusky Dolphin – Final Score: 14-22
(3) African Leopard vs. (14) Yacare Caiman – Final Score: 33-3
Sunday, March 20:
(8) American Pika vs. (9) Three-toed Sloth – Final Score: 22-14
(6) Shag-carpet Caterpillar vs. (11) Northern Tamandua – Final Score: 7-30
(1) Lilac-breasted Roller vs. (16) Grey-headed Kingfisher – Final Score: 30-6
(8) Puma vs. (9) African Wild Dog – Final Score: 22-13
Monday, March 21:
(7) Bighorn Sheep vs. (10) Marine Iguana – Final Score: 23-14
(2) Ground Pangolin vs. (15) Crested Owl – Final Score: 12-23
(4) Whale Shark vs. (13) Black-flanked Rock Wallaby – Final Score: 17-18
(7) Fer-de-lance vs. (10) Long-tailed Weasel – Final Score: 2-33
Tuesday, March 22:
(2) American Bison vs. (15) Guanaco – Final Score: 28-6
(4) Roseate Spoonbill vs. (13) Long-crested Eagle – 18-17 (OT)
(8) Marico Sunbird vs. (9) Eyelash Viper – Final Score: 20-13
(5) Humpback Whale vs. (12) American Badger – 18-19 (OT)
Wednesday, March 23:
(3) Hippopotamus vs. (14) Slaty Flowerpiercer – Final Score: 21-13
(8) White Rhinoceros vs. (9) Giant Armadillo – Final Score: 26-9
(5) Marvelous Spatuletail vs. (12) Southern White-faced Owl – Final Score: 23-11
(1) Grizzly Bear vs. (16) Common Black Hawk – Final Score: 28-7
Thursday, March 24:
(4) Mountain Gorilla vs. (13) Leaf-cutter Ant – Final Score: 28-9
(5) Baird’s Tapir vs. (12) Sword-billed Hummingbird – Final Score: 14-26
(3) Spirit Bear vs. (14) Amazonian Coral Snake – Final Score: 36-4
(6) American Marten vs. (11) Northern Pygmy-owl – Final Score: 26-15
Friday, March 25:
(6) Scarlet Macaw vs. (11) Bare-nosed Wombat – Final Score: 19-20 (OT)
(1) Aardvark vs. (16) Jabiru – Final Score: 26-12
(2) Red-eyed Tree Frog vs. (15) Aplomado Falcon – Final Score: 22-16
(4) Great Gray Owl vs. (13) Martial Eagle – Final Score: 27-13
FOR INFO ON THE NEXT ROUND, CHECK OUT THE NEXT BLOG POST!