Feb 4

Superbowl XLV is right around the corner with American football fans in the US and worldwide getting ready to enjoy the game and watch some of their favorite players take to the field. Although the teams playing this Sunday have proven to be the best of the best this year, we wonder how either the Steelers or the Packers would fair against the animal kingdom’s ultimate football team.

Barn owl photo

The quarterback, or team captain, needs to have an incredible range of vision to see all available opportunities for passing or throwing the ball and gaining yards.  With the ability to see almost 270° in either direction, the barn owl could easily spot the best play to make. Should that play be a running play, this league happens to have the best running back in the animal world.

Photo of female and infant Thomson's gazelles running

Although a cheetah may be the obvious choice to play the running back, a position that requires speed and agility, no other animal can escape the claws of the cheetah as well as the Thomson’s gazelle. During a chase, the Thomson’s gazelle really gives the cheetah a run for it’s money and just when it seems the cheetah will take down its prey, the gazelle has been observed employing a series of quick 90° turns and maneuvers that has faked out a cheetah on more than one occasion. The ability to quickly change direction and avoid getting tackled combined with a top speed of 47mph makes this species the perfect running back.

Now, if the quarterback choses a passing play, the best wide receiver would have to have a proven track record of completed catches as well as an impressive top speed. The species that combines both of these abilities would be the brown bear.

Photo of brown bear, Alaskan population, catching salmon

The brown bear is well known for its impressive ability to catch salmon that migrate upstream for the annual Pacific Northwest spawning event. Not only is it impossible to predict where the salmon will be jumping from, but this favorite prey of the brown bear is also slick and wriggly making it even tougher to get a hold of. This along with a top running speed of 35mph and a massive body weight of 1200lbs, makes the brown bear one unstoppable running and catching machine.

Photo of a female ostrich ssp. camelus running across desert

After the brown bear or Thomson’s gazelle complete a touchdown and perform their obligatory touchdown dance, it’s time to bring the kicker onto the field to score the field goal. This requires incredible leg strength and accuracy and one animal, in particular, would be the ideal species for the job. With a kicking force of 500 pounds per square inch, the ostrich would easily send the ball zooming through the goal posts ensuring the extra point for its team.

What other species do you think would make the cut for the ultimate ARKive animal football team? Why don’t you share your suggestions?

Liana Vitali, ARKive Science, Education and Outreach Officer, Wildscreen USA 

  • Chris (February 6th, 2011 at 3:28 am):

    How about a rhino for defensive end!