A Scientific Look at Unusual Sports Mascots

In my last blog post, I wrote a bit about the controversy over the Washington Redskins name.  I also briefly examined (in a completely non-satirical way) several sports mascots that could be considered offensive.  This post will take a look at some of the most unique mascots in college sports.  As a bonus, I will provide for you some interesting details about the mascots from a scientific perspective.

Texas Christian University – “Superfrog”

Superfrog is a giant Horned Frog.  Horned Frogs aren’t really frogs and are actually a species of lizard (Short-horned Lizard) that lives in deserts throughout western North America.  Horned Frogs have spiky thorns on their head and spines across their body.  The design and colors of these lizards also enable them to blend in with the desert floor.  These attributes provide an excellent defense against potential predators, which is important considering these lizards are usually less than six inches long.  Horned Frogs enjoying munching down on ants and will also eat other insects as well as spiders.  Despite their thorny exterior and camouflaged bodies, these poor lizards are still frequently preyed upon.  The good news is, they taste better than chicken can also inflate their bodies with air and grow to almost twice their normal size!  If that’s not enough, Horned Frogs can also squirt blood out of their eye!  Are you kidding me?!  As a last attempt to escape from danger, a lizard will squirt blood out from the sinuses behind its eyes.  The blood apparently has a terrible taste and provides an unpleasant surprise for a fox or coyote.  This means that the University of South Dakota Coyotes and the Marist College Red Foxes should never play TCU in football unless they want to taste blood.

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Univeristy of Louisiana Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns – “Cayenne”

Yes, there is a school that has a cayenne pepper for a mascot.  It’s actually a hot topic on campus.  Okay, sorry for that remark, sometimes the heat gets to me.  Did you know that cayenne peppers have many health benefits?  Cayenne peppers have been used to ease stomach ailments, prevent heart problems and reduce pain; which is ironic considering many people use pepper spray for self-defense.  The best way to defeat “Cayenne” is to bring a bowl of chili to the game.

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Delta State University – “Fighting Okra”

Continuing on with the edible mascots, we have a . . . fighting okra?!  Apparently the fighting okra was the result of some students deciding that the official mascot of the school,  a statesmen, was not very intimidating.  The fighting okra wears boxing gloves and has a fierce expression on its face.  There are really only two things I know about okra; they’re good when fried and they make great swim coaches.

 

University of Arkansas at Monticello – “Boll Weevil”

Boll Weevils are beetles that feed on cotton plants and are considered a serious pest.  These creatures are between 1/8 of an inch and 1/2 of an inch long and have a snout which contains their mouthparts.  Interestingly enough, when Boll Weevils invaded Arkansas cotton farms in the early 1900’s, farmers realized they needed to diversify their crops and began growing more peanuts and other plants.  The weevil population is sometimes held in check by fire ants and parasitic wasps.  Boll Weevils are harmless to humans, except when mixed with whiskey and chardonnay.

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University of California Santa Cruz – “Banana Slugs”

One of my favorite college mascots is the Banana Slug.  According to the school website, the Banana Slug first became the mascot for UCSC as a “response to the fierce athletic competition fostered at most American universities.” (http://www.ucsc.edu/about/mascot.html)  The article goes on to mention some nonsense about the joy of participating in physical activities is more important than winning.  Apparently, a school chancellor tried to change the mascot to a sea lion at one point, but students stubbornly held on to the Banana Slug and it was eventually named the school’s official mascot.  By the way, John Travolta wore a UCSC Banana Slug t-shirt in the movie Pulp Fiction.  Banana slugs are members of the mollusk family, which includes snails, octopuses, clams and oysters.  These creatures are bright yellow and have a slimy covering over their shell-less body.  Banana Slugs move at the lightning pace of a few inches per minute.  They are decomposers and eat things like mushrooms.  There is also a yearly festival in California where people race Banana Slugs and create interesting slug recipes. According to this article, the race takes a while as some slugs go in the wrong direction and other slugs attempt to find the love of their life.

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Wow, I never knew there was so much information to be gleaned from sports mascots.  Being a mascot is actually quite fun as one time I got to dress up as a doctor dog and entertain children.  To recap, horned lizards have tears of blood, cayenne pepper can cure cancer, okra are intimidating, Boll Weevils will eat your shirt and Banana Slugs are fast and fierce competitors.  Until next time!

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