procavia capensis

Tonight is the final full-division battle of the 2016 Mammal March Madness tournament. The group, Mammals of the Nouns, includes such creatures as the Goat of the Mountain, the Otter of the Sea, and the Baby of the Bush. One Museum scientist, Mary Blair, picked one of tonight’s contenders, the Hyrax of the Rock, to win the entire competition. Her explanation:

“I’m the Assistant Director for Research at the Museum’s Center for Biodiversity and Conservation.  I study slow lorises, and after a disappointing defeat in the first round of MMM last year (seriously?!?! they’re one of the only TOXIC mammals!! - clearly I’m still upset), lorises didn’t make it into the bracket this year, unfortunately. So, I’m backing another of my favorite mammalian groups: the rock hyraxes Procavia capensis. These animals live in sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East and like to hang out in rock crevices. They look kind of like guinea pigs - but they’re actually not rodents at all - they’re most closely related to elephants and manatees. They have some pretty cute, sweaty foot pads and—they have TUSKS.  Hyrax tusks develop from their incisors—just like the tusks of elephants. They also produce hyraceum—a petrified and rock-like excrement composed of both urine and feces. With these weapons at their disposal, the hyrax of the rock will defeat the viscacha - and go all the way! #TeamHyrax”

Find out tonight if the hyrax can beat the viscacha and advance to the next round! Learn more about Mammal March Madness and follow along on Twitter with #2016MMM.

Image: Wikipedia