March Mammal Madness - 2024

Hey all, March Mammal Madness has released the materials. This year, there is an arts theme and the brackets are across the Tree of Life. I think iNat is a great resource for students in researching their organism in that students can study the range and actual observations of this year’s “combatants”.

I need to get my bracket ready.


I was just wondering about something. We have birders, herpers, moth-ers; even particular fans of odonates. But looking at iNaturalist profiles, I don’t think I have come across one yet who could be called a mammal-er, or whatever term is appropriate. This seems surprising to me since mammals are the taxon with which we have the most in common. There are a few “bird people,” who can form a mutual emotional bond with their birds (especially if the birds in question are highly intelligent ones like parrots); but far more common are “dog people,” “cat people,” or “horse people.”

Given that we tend to relate more deeply to mammals, it seems unexpected that iNatters who focus especially on mammals are so rare.

1 Like

Very true.

Though I once sat through an hour long presentation about shrews that was supposed to be an introductory overview of mammals. So the geek can run strong among the warm-blooders too.


Is there going to be a March Mammal Madness competition on Inat?

There could be.

We could fill out brackets and then complain about losing, lol.

1 Like

You can use this Google sheet to create your bracket. Make a copy and fill out the second sheet with your bracket choices. The third sheet will automatically populate points so even if you miss a game which I believe are now broadcasted on YouTube instead of Twitter/X, you still know how (badly) you are doing.

I created my bracket. I have Sperm Whale vs Great White Shark with Sperm Whale taking it all.

So, I’m willing to throw down. If someone is willing to pick up, you get bragging rights for an entire year. Maybe even put 2024 MMM WINNER in your iNat profile if you actually, you know, win.


ETA: I think there should be some side iNat challenge. Like you have to post a related observation to win. Not necessarily of your bracket winner b/c,hello, I have Sperm Whale and I promise you a photo is not going to happen. I think I could manage a starling, though.

So iNat rules are you have to post a picture of something in the family of a bracket organism by the time the tournament is ended to claim WINNER.

March Mammal Madness observation: the Sparklemuffin.


March Mammal Madness Observation: New World Pitcher Plants

1 Like

As someone who works on mammals, I think I can comment. Mammals are simply more difficult as a group for a naturalist and nature photographer to specialize on. Many are nocturnal and small and can’t be readily photographed and IDed without trapping and handling them. Many small rodents can’t be IDed unless you can look at skull characteristics which means sacrificing the animal. There’s also an incredible amount of diversity in mammals. Consider the differences between a naturalist who is into photoing marine mammals versus one who is fascinated by bats or one who is into ungulates. The differences in techniques to find and photo the diversity of mammals are immense. I’ve made an effort at times to photo small mammals I’ve live-trapped and it’s really tough to get a good shot and impossible to do in a natural setting. Even a good photo of some small rodent might not be identifiable to species. I find birds much easier to pursue as a photo hobby than the majority of mammals.


Many good points, but I can’t help but think that most of what you wrote is true for the majority life on earth:

Many are nocturnal and small - beetles
Incredible amount of diversity - mammals are greatly outnumbered by arthropods
Even a good photo might not be identifiable to species - fungus

1 Like

There is a thriving community over at They even have an excellent podcast. I don’t know how many of them are on iNaturalist though.


All true. I was just making the point that a mammaler has many more challenges to find and photo a wide range of species than, say, a birder might, so as a hobby for the everyday naturalist it’s kind of a non-starter.

Of course mammaling in many parts of Africa with its great diversity of big mammals is a different story.


Speaking of parts of Africa with its great diversity: March Mammal Madness: kob. This one Is somewhat unique because it is actually a Mammal.


This is a cool beastie: short-tailed singing Mouse (another Mammal).

1 Like

Another combatant: Behold, the porcupine.. Fascinating range map on iNat.

Posting my combatant photo: a starling.

And I will say that the early round loss of the sparklemuffin peacock spider broke a lot of hearts. My hope is that it also piqued a lot of interest in spiders and hopefully toned down the “Destroy it!” response.

If you haven’t heard the news yet, the Great White Shark was the March Mammal Madness winner. Congratulations Mr. Jaws and see you all next year!