Jan 24

As the anticipation around Oscar nominations reaches fever pitch today, we thought we should highlight some of the animal kingdoms most deserving Academy Award nominees. From elaborate makeup to heart-stopping live action, the natural world is packed full of worthy winners. 

Best actor

There were a few contenders for this category, but the grass snake has to be one of the best for its amazing ability to successfully feign death. This is a defence mechanism to deter predators from killing it. If it is caught, it will hiss loudly, release pungent substances, and strike at the head. A well deserved Oscar nominee indeed!

Photo of a grass snake feigning death

Grass snake feigning death


Best actress

There are many birds which use the so called broken wing display, where they pretend to be injured to attract predators away from the nest. This common ringed plover demonstrates this deceptive behaviour at its best.

Photo of a common ringed plover feigning injury

Common ringed plover feigning injury


Best costume design

As the national bird of India, the male Indian peafowl, or peacock, has a spectacular train of feathers which it shakes as part of its elaborate courtship display. This train isn’t in fact its tail, but is composed of tail coverts, or feathers that cover its tail. Either way, no one can deny that this is a strong contender for best costume.

Photo of a male Indian peafowl displaying

Male Indian peafowl displaying


Best makeup

As the largest and one of the most distinctive monkeys in the world, the mandrill has a striking red stripe down its nose, framed in blue. Coupled with its yellow mane-like beard, this is truly a look any makeup artist would be proud of!

Mandrill photo

Mandrill male


Best original song

Everyone is familiar with the term ‘whale song’, but perhaps the most famous belongs to the humpback whale. The male humpback is well known for its impressive leaping displays, and singing highly complex songs, which are similar within a given population. If this doesn’t deserve a nomination for best original song, I don’t know what does!

Photo of humpback whale swimming

Humpback whale swimming


Best director

The spotted hyaena has a strict dominance hierarchy, where the females are in charge! In fact, even the lowest ranking female is above the highest ranking male, and the females are more aggressive. The nominated best ‘director’ in this case has to go to the alpha female of the clan. She is clearly ahead of the rest, and is the best fed individual within the clan, having first access to food and other resources.

Spotted hyaena photo

Spotted hyaena in apeasement, bowing display


Best live action

The natural world is full of live action, but some of the best moments have to be those heart-stopping hunting chases. The cheetah, as the fasted land mammal in the world, is a formidable predator, creeping towards its prey before bursting into a full speed chase. Have a look at some amazing videos of the cheetah’s live action on ARKive!

Cheetah photo

Juvenile cheetah hunting springbok


Best visual effects

The incredible dancing display of the Japanese crane is certainly a visual treat. These birds usually pair for life, and reinforce this bond with their synchronised courtship dance, which can be seen in our amazing video of this spectacle. It is no wonder that this species is seen as a symbol of fidelity, love, good luck, and long life.

Japanese crane photo

Japanese cranes in courtship display

Are there any other worthy Oscar nominees on ARKive? Let us know!

Rebecca Taylor, ARKive Media Researcher

  • Dushyanth Sachan (January 25th, 2012 at 3:03 am):

    Cheetah is the most amazing big cat in the world and i believe is the most worthy contender for the ARKive’s Oscar.I have always regretted extinction of the Indian Cheetah which was unique and genetically different from its African counterpart, its extinction according to me is the biggest loss to Indian wildlife till date.

  • Homa (January 27th, 2012 at 8:13 am):

    I really enjoyed Oscar nominiees,I prefer animals to Human beings ! What they do is natural and real !….