What is March Mammal Madness? Exploring the Viral Social Media Game

Kenya, Masai Mara, Pride Of Lions, Lioness With Cubs,...
Kenya, Masai Mara, Pride Of Lions, Lioness With Cubs,... / Wolfgang Kaehler/GettyImages

March is approaching which means it is almost time for everyone's favorite tournament, March Mammal Madness. Named after, but having no affiliation to, the NCAA basketball tournament, March Mammal Madness was started in 2013 at Arizona State by professor Katie Hinde.

While many people make brackets of random things this time of year, March Mammal Madness has stood the test of time and gained quite a following with 15,000 followers on Facebook and nearly 30,000 followers on Twitter. More improtantly, the annual event is used by a ton of eductators.

Every year people anticipate the bracket reveal (February 21st this year), do their research and fill out a bracket. But it's not so simple as picking the biggest predator. Via the March Mammal Madness FAQ's:

Sometimes the winner "wins" by displacing the other at a feeding location, sometimes a powerful animal doesn't attack because it is not motivated to- a few years ago in the “Who in the What Now?” Division we had a dhole lose to a binturong because the night before dhole had gorged on babirusa and the gut passage time of wild canids is 24-48 hours. This meant that the dhole was still full from the night before and unwilling to take the risks of tangling with the binturong.

Who could forget the binturong's Elite Eight run back in 2014 that started with that upset win over the dlong? Many a bracket was busted by that babirusa feast.

Mostly winners are determined by science, just like on SpikeTV's Deadliest Warrior. And that's why the previous winners of March Mammal Madness are Elephant, Hyena, Sumatran Rhino, Wolf of the Tundra, Short-faced Bear, Pygmy Hippo, Bengal Tiger, Gorilla, and most recently, a Pride of Lionesses.

So check out the slideshow of this year's entrants, fill out your bracket and get ready for the tournament, which begins on March 13 and runs through April 5.