Eyewire Presents: Mammal Mania!

Perhaps you enjoyed Eyewire’s previous competition Reptile Pile, an ode to all creatures scaly and ectothermic. But now it’s time to bring things into the present day with a tribute to the winners of the Cenozoic Era — mammals!

Mammals are defined by a few key traits. They have milk glands with which to nurse their young, typically have hair, possess a diaphragm, have red blood cells which lack a nucleus, have a lower jaw that hinges directly to the skull, and use a chain of 3 tiny bones to aid in hearing.

These last two traits are essential when classifying ancient mammals, as soft tissues are often absent in fossilized remains, so studies of the jaw and ear bones are used to classify these ancient ancestors.

The first mammals appeared during the Mesozoic Era, an age dominated by reptiles, where dinosaurs ruled the earth. However, mammals during this time period remained fairly small, no bigger than a possum, and dined primarily on insects.

Until recently, the earliest known mammal was Morganucodon, a small shrew-like mammal that lived 205 million years ago. Morganucodon was covered in hair and had a tiny brain, but had pretty good hearing for its day! However, in 2022 new analysis of the fossilized remains of Brasilodon quadrangularis help classify it as an even older mammal, living 225 million years ago!

The first mammals lived in the shadows of the massive dinosaurs that ruled their age. However, after the K-ph extinction event that wiped out all non-flying dinos, mammals were ready for their time in the spotlight. The Cenozoic Era, also known as “The Age of Mammals” began 66 million years ago, and continues into the modern day!

Around 6,400 mammalian species exist in today’s world. Let’s get to know some of them during this month’s competition, beginning August 17th! There will also be abundant bonuses, unique badges, and swag prizes up for grabs!

*All times are Eastern Time (ET).*

Chiroptera Accuracy Happy Hours

First session runs from 8:00 AM to 10:00 AM on Thursday 8/17
Second session runs from 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM on Friday 8/18
Third session runs from 10:00 PM to midnight on Friday 8/18

Bats are so cool (and abundant) that they get their own animal order – Chiroptera! Bats are the only mammals capable of true flight, with forelimbs that have adapted into membrane covered wings. They’re the second largest order of mammals after rodents, comprising 20% of all mammals, and include arguably the smallest of all extant mammals with Kitti’s hog-nosed bat measuring 29–34 millimetres (just over an inch) in length, and weighing in at 2–2.6 g (~1⁄32 oz).

Bats are particularly appropriate for our Accuracy Happy Hours due to their ability to echolocate. Though not all bats have this superpower (70% use echolocation), the ones that do use sound signals to accurately locate and target their prey.

Swag: Most accurate player completing at least 30 cubes wins the choice of a notebook or a mug, plus a sticker/magnet set! Second and third place will each also win a sticker/magnet set.

1st Place Accuracy – 10,000 points
2nd Place Accuracy – 8,000 points
3rd Place Accuracy – 6,000 points
Achieve 95% Accuracy – 5,000 points
Achieve 90% Accuracy – 3,000 points
Achieve 80% Accuracy – 2,000 points
1,000 points for anyone under 80% who still plays at least 30 cubes in either slot.
(These bonus thresholds are non-cumulative, i.e. they will not combine. If you earn 3rd place, for instance, and presumably got over 95% accuracy, you still earn a 6,000 point bonus, not 11,000.)

Carnivora Hunt

Begins at 12:00 AM (midnight) on Saturday 8/19
Ends at 12:00 PM (noon) on Thursday 8/24

The Carnivora mammalian order takes it name from the latin carō ‘flesh’ and vorāre ‘to devour’, referring to animals that eat meat. This order includes two suborders – Feliformia, “cat-like” carnivorans, and Caniformia, “dog-like” carnivorans.

Most of the animals in this order are indeed hunters, though some are omnivorous, and a few, like the the panda bear, are mainly herbivores! However, let’s take from the spirit of their order and get ready for the Hunt.

Swag: The top scoring player wins the choice of a notebook or a mug, plus a sticker/magnet set! Second and third place will each also win a sticker/magnet set.

Each merger found – 1,000 points
7,500 additional points if all 12 are found
200 point bonus available on each merger to the player whose guess is closest
250 point bonus available to any player who guesses within 10 voxels of a merger

Primate Trivia

Begins at 11:00 AM on Sunday 8/20
Continues until 11:00 AM on Tuesday 8/22
Finishes with Power Hour from 11:00 AM to 12:00 PM on Tuesday 8/22

Intelligence can be measured in a variety of ways, and many highly intelligent mammals from a variety of mammalian orders come out on top when it comes to performing various tasks.

However, no one enjoys doing trivia more than a human, so this one’s for you, primate! Er, that is of course except for perhaps the chimpanzee, who outperformed human test subjects during a study on memory. But a chimp is still a primate so the thesis still stands!

Swag: The top scoring player wins the choice of a notebook or a mug, plus a sticker/magnet set! Second and third place will each also win a sticker/magnet set.

For every question —
1st to answer – 300 points
2nd to answer – 200 points
3rd to answer – 100 points

Monotremes vs Marsupials: A strange battle

Begins at 11:00 AM on Monday 8/21
Ends at 11:00 AM on Wednesday 8/23

While most mammals are placental, meaning they give birth to live young, these two infraclasses of mammals decided to do things a little differently.

Monotremes, some of the most ancient mammals, are certainly a bit out there by today’s standards. These egg laying oddities include the platypus, who has a duck-like bill and can detect electromagnetic forces in the water, and the echidna, who looks like a poisonous hedgehog that crossed paths with an anteater.

Marsupials decided to forego the egg route, but also decided giving birth to fully formed babies was not for them. Instead they give birth to partially developed fetal young, and then let them continue to fully develop inside a pouch. All young marsupials are very cutely known as “joeys.”

Choose your odd mammalian favorite and let the competition begin!

Swag: The top scoring player on the winning team wins the choice of a notebook or a mug, plus a sticker/magnet set! Second and third place will each also win a sticker/magnet set.

Starting Lineup – top 3 players on each team, who earn 75% of their score in bonus points
All Other Players – earn 50% of their score in bonus points
Winning Team – 20,000 additional points
Each Team’s MVP – 5,000 additional points
(The winning team is determined by average points per player, with 2x weight given to Starting Lineup players. To qualify for any of the above bonuses or affect the team score, players must earn a minimum baseline of 2,000 points.)

Cetacean Marathon

Begins at 10:00 AM on Wednesday 8/23
Ends at 10:00 AM on Thursday 8/24

Though other mammals, such as the cheetah, are faster sprinters, cetaceans are great long haulers. An eastern gray whale, for example, traveled 14,000 miles from Russia to Mexico, and then back again! This set the record for the longest known migration of any mammal.

Humpback whales, another type of cetacean, have migratory patterns that cover nearly as much ground, while the common dolphin and the orca whale can clock impressive swimming speeds at between 50 and 60 kilometers per hour!

Show off your own speed and endurance during our marathon and help us trace as many cells as possible during this 24 hour challenge.

Swag: The player who has earned the most points during the marathon (not the most cubes) wins the choice of a notebook or a mug, plus a sticker/magnet set! Second and third place will each also win a sticker/magnet set.

One live cell will be designated the “marathon cell,” with a 3x points multiplier!
Cube count bonuses: 3500 points per cube traced.
SC bonuses are doubled on all cells.
Every 3 SCs counts for 1 cube toward naming eligibility & per-cell completion bonus.
50 cubes = 5,000 points per completed cell, plus rights to vote on a new name for the marathon cell
200 cubes = 10,000 points per completed cell, plus rights to nominate a new name for the marathon cell

Eyewire’s Mammal Mania Closing Ceremony

Begins at 4:00 PM on Friday 8/25

Come celebrate the end of this competition, where admins will recognize everyone’s achievements. As always, we will include a round of promotions for Scouts, Scythes, Mystics, Moderators, and Mentors. If you’d like a promotion, you can request them here.

Artwork by Daniela Gamba