Most writers are mammals, yet we still get some things wrong with mammals.
One of the most egregious examples is mistaking cetaceans (whales, dolphins, and porpoises) for fish. Then there's the way that just about any small mammal is mistaken for a rodent, including rabbits (lagomorphs); shrews, hedgehogs, and moles (eulipotyphlans); bats (chiropterans); and weasels (carnivorans).
Another example is referring to saber toothed cats, mammoths, and other Pleistocene megafauna as dinosaurs just because they are fierce and extinct, and/or portraying them as being around during the Mesozoic era.
People also draw male kangaroos with pouches; elephants drinking with their trunks instead of sucking up the liquid with their trunks and then squirting it into their mouths, like real elephants; and on and on.
Nothing to do with breasts. Yes, all mammals have mammary glands for, well, obvious reasons, but it's not the focus here. For that issue, see Non-Mammal Mammaries.
Subtrope of Artistic License - Biology. Supertrope of Kangaroo Pouch Ride, and Somewhere, an Equestrian Is Crying. See also Misplaced Wildlife
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In an H2OH commercial, the narrator voice comments how cool it is that nature gave spikes to the hedgehog, instead of you (human). In the video, though, the guy shoots spikes all around. It's said that porcupines can shoot their quills — porcupines are not hedgehogs, however, and the popular belief is in fact false. Porcupines may have their spines dislodged while swinging their tails around because the spines are very loosely attached to the porcupine so that they'll come out once they've been lodged in another creature's skin; however, they don't deliberately shoot their quills at a target. They're much more likely to reverse into your leg and fill it with hooked barbs.
An ad for Napa auto parts features a hunter crouched in the marsh with his gun and, instead of a regular hunting dog, he has a fluffy white poodle with a pink bow in its hair. The tag line is, "Having the wrong auto part makes even less sense." This is absolutely hilarious to anyone who knows that poodles were bred to be wetland hunting dogs, and the dog doesn't care if it's white, fluffy, and wearing a ribbon: when there's a bird to be retrieved, it will be retrieved, no matter the amount of mud involved. Also, those ribbons and poofs and whatnot that look so fancy are all relics of their hunting days - the ribbons were color-coded to their owners, and those poofs were originally for the purpose of keeping the dog's hair out of its eyes.
Also, the poodle cut, now known for being the prissiest hairstyle one can give their dog, was actually designed to make it easier for the dogs to move through the wetlands, while still protecting vulnerable areas of the body like joints and their chest, which were essential to keep warmer and more protected. In the past, the poodle cut was the sign of a hardworking hunting dog, not a prissy lap pet.
Poodles actually come in different sizes, a large one would be about the size of a Labrador.
Anime & Manga
In the manga Saber Tiger by Hoshino Yukinobu, the narrator says "despite its name, the saber-toothed tiger was actually the ancestor of the lion," and not tigers. Of course, even a superficial round of research would reveal that lions and tigers, and by extension, leopards, jaguars and house cats, are more closely related to each other than any of them are to saber-tooths, what with the saber-tooths being on one branch of Felidae, and all living cats being on another branch.
Later, time travelers pontificate about how the mammoths are/were doomed because there was an evolutionary trend for the tusk tips to overlap. Of course, never mind that mammoths did not use the tips of their tusks for food gathering, never mind that only the adult males had the massive tusks (females and subadult males having much more modest tusks), and never mind that there were already two rather successful species of mammoths (the Columbian and Imperial) in North America with tusks that had overlapping tips. Also counts as Dan Browned, given as how a review boasts how the manga was a great example of "hard science fiction."
At first glance, the wolves of Wolf's Rain look realistic and natural, like there is no fantasy in their their designs. For most of them this is a illusion. Hige, Toboe, and most of the minor character wolves are more brown then any real wolf, and every wolf that has markings is over simplified to the point of losing realism. The only truly realistic wolves are the pure white Kiba and pure black Blue. The pure black Darcia would count too, if not for his eyes being different colors. The series does not suffer for this trope, as simplification is needed for animation.
Before The Fairman Rogers Four-in-Hand painted between 1879-80, artists drew horses with highly unrealistic gaits. Horses in gallop were depicted with all four limbs extended off the ground. Once the earliest cameras were invented, people discovered that there was a moment in the horse's gallop where all four limbs were off the ground... But they're tucked under the body rather then extended outwards.
Gorilla Grodd, a supervillian from the DC Universe who is a, shock, gorilla, is frequently shown eating people, especially when Grant Morrison is writing him. Gorillas are actually herbivores, and while super-intelligent telepathic gorillas mutated by aliens may be different, Grodd's certainly the sort of person to eat someone For the Evulz even if he'd have trouble digesting them.
Bats are not rodents, something that most Batman writers apparently don't know. It's lampshaded sometimes.
Usually it's just for humor, especially when a character curses or just disses Batman.
Monstro from Disney's Pinocchio is a sperm whale with upper teeth and lines on his belly. Real sperm whales only have lower teeth and do not have lines on their belly, since belly lines only appear on baleen whales, and sperm whales are toothed whales.
In Ice Age 2: The Meltdown, there is a creature which is identified as an aardvark, but though it has the ears of an aardvark, it has the bushy tail of a giant anteater, and its snout is weirdly elongated to be reminiscent of an anteater (not an aardvark), but that animal would have a tiny mouth at the tip of its snout, whereas the cartoon critter has its mouth at the base.
The glyptodonts in the series are depicted with armor plating on their bellies and the ability to retract into their shells just like turtles.
The original Planet of the Apes films have gorillas as the violent, militaristic apes. But in reality, chimps are known to be much more violent than gorillas. Probably a case of Science Marches On, as gorillas were often depicted as violent in the past. Also probably why the 2001 version had a chimp as the main antagonist.
Also, the orangutans are the leaders of the ape society due to their wise looks and supposed social skills... and it's been proven they often live very far from each other (researchers might spend years seeing the same orangutan on a large area).
It's funny that they make fun of the "apes mistaken for monkeys" thing in the Planet of the Apes remake, but played straight in that to make them seem more attractive, the female apes were given eyebrows, something real apes do not have, and human-sized breasts, evident when the female ape is being "sexy" for the Senator Nado.
In The Legend of the Titanic, dolphins can jump as high as Titanic decks and even fly for a short amount of time by flapping their fins. It should be obvious to anyone with any grasp of biology — or hell, logic — why this doesn't work.
In Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, Ace has a phobia of bats (one of the few animals he's not friendly with) and often calls them "rats with wings". However, this is more likely to be a derogatory term rather than an actual fact.
In Gremlins 2: The New Batch, one of the scientist twins who find Gizmo describes him as a rodent. Even though it's not clear what he is, a biologist examining him would be more likely to think he was some kind of primate, like a tarsier.
In Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Indy identifies the large winged creatures flying overhead as "giant vampire bats". Vampire bats are indigenous to South America, not India; given their size and the fact they're flying in broad daylight, the animals in question are almost certainly harmless fruit-eaters. Possibly Indy was just yanking Willie's chain, since giant vampire bats were real creatures, but they've been extinct for tens of millions of years.
Ferngully has one. Batty's wings keep changing from one free claw with four fingers supporting the wings, to one free claw with one finger holding the wing, or the complete opposite of Ptero Soarer: three or four free claws with one finger holding the wing. Most obvious in the rap.
Wolfen claims that wolves — not just its urban superwolves, but real ones — have thermographic vision.
The Lion King and any thing else that portrays hyenas as being dumb and exclusively scavengers. Believe it or not, lions are not as intelligent as hyenas, who are among the most intelligent animals on earth, and lions scavenge more than they do. Hyenas kill 75% of the food they eat whereas lions scavenge over 50% of what they eat.
Mariel of Redwall, from the Redwall series, mentions Gabool the Wild having gold "replacements" for his canine teeth. Gabool is a rat, and rodents do not have canine teeth.
In the books, movie, and PBS kids TV show, Curious George is referred to as a monkey even though he is really a chimpanzee.
To be honest, George doesn't match a chimpanzee either, standing much too erect. According to author H. A. Rey, George's original design (as Fifi... yes, male... in Rafi et les 9 singes (Rafi and the 9 Monkeys)) had a tail. Due to art complications — the long-necked giraffe main character plus nine monkey tails made the art "look like spaghetti" — the tails were removed, making Fifi (and thus George) a tailless monkey. Rey did the research. He lived by the zoo. But when you're making a picture book, the art wins over accuracy.
In Prince Caspian, Reepicheep the talking mouse has lost his tail in battle, and he argues with Aslan over whether it needs to be regrown. Both of them seem to think a mouse's tail has no practical value, and is of use only as a badge of honor or vanity, but the tails of mice and rats are actually important thermoregulatory structures, without which he'd be quite vulnerable to heat stroke. This is more likely Science Marches On, rather than a failure on C. S. Lewis's part. Research on thermoregulation in rodents was not common knowledge in 1950-51, when the earliest reference to it was published in 1958. It makes even less sense in Reepicheep's case since wielding a sword would probably be much easier with a tail to balance with.
The above mentioned tail problem does not seem to be an issue for the narrator in Roald Dahl's The Witches after he gets turned into a mouse.
According to his backstory from James and the Giant Peach, James Henry Trotter's parents were eaten alive by an escaped zoo rhinoceros. In real life, rhinos are supposed to be herbivores. Fortunately, the book lampshades this as being very strange behaviour for a rhino, and the film adaptation averts it by changing said rhino from an actual rhinoceros to a large rhinoceros-shaped demon made entirely out of thunderclouds.
Kim Harrison persistently seems to think ferrets are rodents in a couple of her books about The Hollows.
Averted in the Discworld. Don't call the Librarian a monkey. In fact, don't even say the word, or any combination of words that could sound like "monkey". It makes him displeased. Remember "Do not meddle in the affairs of wizards, especially simian ones. They aren't that subtle."
Granny Weatherwax once Bowdlerized a summary of Nanny Ogg's favorite song as being about "a rodent that can't be persuaded to be bothered by anything". The actual song title is "The Hedgehog Can Never Be Buggered at All", and hedgehogs are eulipotyphlans, not rodents.
In Domain, a horror novel about giant killer rats, one of these aggressive rodents gets stuck twice — once by its shoulders, again by its hips — while squeezing its body through a gnawed hole in a door. Any exterminator, or any rat-fancier who's ever tried in vain to put a collar on one, knows that real rats can fit their entire bodies through any opening large enough for their heads.
E. T. A. Hoffmann describes dolphins as having scales in The Nutcracker and the Mouse King and has them blowing water through their nostrils. (Dolphins have a single blowhole on the top of their head, and they don't actually blow water out through it.)
Many writers wishing to dramatise a transformation between human and animal forms choose to describe a molding-type process, as opposed to a puff of magic smoke. Faces lengthen, ribcages change shape, teeth sharpen - all ok. And then a joint turns over. All mammal joints actually are present in the human form - as the heel of the foot being the equivalent of a hock. No turn-overs would need to ever happen. Prevalent in Harry PotterFan Fiction.
The 2015 edition of Guinness World Records repeatedly calls elephants ungulates.
Angel: In the episode "Through the Looking Glass", the gang is discussing the picture of a male red deer. Had Wesley simply used the term "hart" or "stag" in the layman fashion (to refer to any male red deer regardless of its age), it might not have been accurate but it wouldn't have been comment-worthy. Unfortunately, he goes into detail saying a hart is "a male red deer or staggard" indicating the script-writers may have attempted to research the proper naming convention that exists for male red deer (that or they thought a "stag" and "staggard" meant the same thing). A staggard is a male red deer in its fourth year of life. A stag is a male red deer in its fifth year of life. A hart is a male red deer over five years old (i.e., in its sixth year of life). The picture itself shows a 10-point deer (5 tines on each antler) which is a "great hart" (a stag over six years old, i.e., seven years old or older with 10-16 tines). By using generalised layman terms, it all could have been handwaved as an ordinary conversation or at least the "hart" being a contraction of "great hart" where the picture itself was concerned. The attempt to be clever by referring to "staggard" simply exposed that the writers had been sloppy about research.
In one episode of QI, Jimmy Carr claims that all native Australian mammals are marsupials, and Steven "corrects" him that they are therefore not mammals. Both are wrong - marsupials are indeed a subgroup of mammals, and there are non-marsupial mammals native to Australia such as monotremes (platypus and echidna) and various sea mammals.
The Ravenloft darklord Urik von Kharkov, a panther-form shapeshifter, is described as acquiring slitted pupils like a cat's when he loses his temper. But Kharkov's feline form is a leopard, one of the big cats, and their pupils are oval rather than slitted.
A weasel-like Beanie Baby named Runner has mustelidae officially listed as its species. The "mean poem" that the toy was originally released with (itself a Crowning Moment of Funny for the franchise) all but stated that it was a mongoose, while the replacement poem said that it could be "a ferret, mongoose, weasel or mink." Although the other three species are legitimately mustelidae, mongoose are kind of on their own classification-wise, and are actually more closely related to felines and hyenas than anything else.
Seaweed the Otter is depicted with seaweed in her paws, as if she were eating it. Sea otters largely eat marine invertebrates and fish.
The wolf mounts in World of Warcraft have giant saber canines in their lower jaws, which real wolves do not have. Many (though not all) cats in the game have saber-teeth, which only a single group of cats ever actually had. Certain skeletal horse mounts have horns, although it might just be an aesthetic addition.
The devs don't know how horses run (the game animates them the same way as a cheetah, with legs outstretched in the suspension phase instead of collected). In the current version, this has been changed.
Elekk (a pseudo elephant mount) freakin' gallop. Come to think of it, so do the mammoths. Knee joints of adamantium! This was also eventually corrected so they run like actual elephants.
Diddy Kong is often called a chimpanzee (and, in some instances, referred to as Donkey Kong's nephew), even though he has a tail.
In fact, the Kongs themselves. Having the same last name implies they're more or less related, despite them being very different species of apes and monkeys. Cross-species adoption, maybe?
Worse, Cranky Kong is explicitly the original DK from the arcade game. He was a gorilla then. He's currently somewhere between Chimp and Baboon, with a demonstrably different bone structure, body shape, set of limb proportions, and cranial shape. Miniature Senior Citizens as applied to non-human primates?
For that matter, they're nearly all colored brown, one color nonhuman apes DON'T come in.
Clanker from Banjo-Kazooie is claimed to be a metal whale note He has a blowhole. despite the fact that he has gills. His teeth also make him look like a shark.
Pretty much okay as a title for the game, yet everyone seems to call the titular primates monkeys.
The original title was "saru getchu"; Saru meaning monkey.
Knuckles looks nothing like an echidna. Not even remotely. Few Sonic characters resemble the animals they are based on, with Tails being the closest to looking like an actual fox (barring the two tails, of course).
The Westerncartoons also had Dr. Robotnik derisively call Sonic a "rodent", which hedgehogs are not.
And the less said about countries which mistranslated "hedgehog" as "porcupine", the better (though ironically, Sonic being a porcupine would make Robotnik's "rodent" assessment accurate).
In Scribblenauts, writing "monotreme" gives you a porcupine (not an echidna, an actual porcupine).
In Far Cry 3, tapirs can be killed by chasing them into water so they drown.
In Labyrinths of the World: Shattered Soul a hedgehog, once fed, curls up and rolls away like a soccer ball.
In Off-White, a conversation between Othala and Raigho suggests that a female wolf leading a pack is unusual. In reality, wolf packs are a nuclear family structure, and having the eldest female parent lead a pack is not at all unusual.
The pack is shown hunting a bull elk. This is (possible but) unlikely because wolves, like most predators, usually target the sick, the young, the weak and anything else less hard to catch than a healthy adult animal.
There are a blue-eyed and a red-eyed raven, and Iki, a wolf, has blue eyes, mostlynote young wolves have blue eyes, but they change color as they get older unnatural colors for those animals. This is intentional, it indicates the color of their spirits.
In The Blackblood Alliance, most of the wolves have body proportions that look too thin for gray wolves, let alone dire wolves.
Also, a real Saber-toothed cat probably would have broken its sabers off if it tried to use them the way the ones in the comic do.
The Blackbloods being able to survive on bats in an oasis in the desert may qualify as this.
The flash clip Dugong begins with words 'Dugong, dugong it's a cow of the se-e-e-a. Dugong, dugong, also known as the manatee'. The problem is that dugong (Dugong dugong) and manatees (genus Trichechus) are different animals. Furthermore, the song contains the phrase 'Compared to dolphin, its very close cousin...'. Dugong and dolphins are water mammals, but hardly 'very close cousins'. Manatees and dugongs (Sirenia) are more closely related to elephants and aardvarks than to dolphins, while cetaceans are closer to hippopotamuses and swine.
The "Dramatic Chipmunk" is actually a prairie dog.
Similarly, the "Dramatic Lemur" is a tarsier, and there are many popular Youtube videos of pet lorises (a concept that is already questionable for unrelated reasons) with titles like "cute lemur getting tickled".
In one episode of Phineas and Ferb, someone pitches ideas for an "inaction figure" based on Perry the Platypus, one of which is "The Mad Marauding Marsupial of Death." Right continent, wrong kind of mammal. The platypus is a monotreme, not a marsupial. Ferb also once stated that the platypus is the only mammal that lays eggs; this is inaccurate, as the Echidna also lays eggs.
In another, Candace calls Perry Phineas's stupid rodent pet. Rodents have teeth, while platypuses do not — among innumerable other differences. Granted, this one can probably be chalked up to merely being an insult.
Perry is also occasionally depicted as having a full set of teeth. Baby platypus do have teeth and extinct platypus species had molars, and living adult platypi lack them.
Yin Yang Yo had at least one episode where Yin and/or Yang throw up. However, since Yin and Yang are rabbits, they shouldn't be able to barf.
In one King of the Hill episode, when Bobby gets a summer job for a guy who cleans poop off lawns, he and his employer gross out his folks by describing an incident at work: their discovery of deposits of gigantic turds, scattered all over an estate's grounds. Turns out it was alpaca poo, as a neighbor's damaged fence had let a whole herd go trespassing ... and it also turns out that the writers chose the worst possible animal to blame it on, as alpacas produce lots of tiny "beans" of dung, and herds of them do so all in one place. Obscure, but a single phone call to a petting zoo could've rectified this one.
Barnyard treats cows and bulls as entirely separate species — the main character is a male cow with udders (in the video game adaptation he squirts what the devs probably wish you thought was milk), while udderless bulls have also appeared.
Somewhat averted, surprisingly enough, in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. While real ponies can't talk, aren't colored in pastel colors, and don't have magically appearing pictures on their flanks indicating what career they're going to have, the show is quite accurate in other respects. In particular, the ponies move in realistic ways for equines, with their joints and legs moving in the proper order (something many other forms of media get wrong). There're also small touches, like ponies putting their ears back when angry or afraid, accurate references to equine anatomy in the song "The Art of the Dress", and so on. On the other hand they are able to eat stuff that would normally be poisonous to real ponies, like chocolate or quince.
While they do walk with the proper motions, their wrist and knuckle joints seem to have merged into a single joint, or else they have a wrist set farther down the leg and no knuckle (an equine's hoof is essentially a giant toenail protecting a single large toe upon which the animal balances). This is most likely due to the animation style, though, as accurate joints might look a bit strange on the somewhat chibi designs.
Played straight at other times. Fluttershy takes care of domestic ferrets as if they're wild animals and one scene even shows them eating nuts. A carnivorous sparrow also popped up once.
Averted in the G1cartoons. They're probably the most accurate of the generations so far. The horses acted like horses and moved like them, especially in the first two specials. The cartoon series and The Movie were more anthropomorphic but still were not to the same degree as G4.
Ron Stoppable's pet naked mole rat, Rufus. First of all, Rufus would likely die very quickly on its own, even if it had an owner: Naked mole rats are eusocial mammals much like ants and termites. Second, he's a cold-blooded mammal, one of nature's few surviving ones. Good luck to Ron in trying to regulate its body temperature as mole rats usually do (via the warmth of their colony or the coolness of their inner dens). And third, his diet would likely not consist of cheese from his buddy's world famous Naco; in fact, it's more likely to want potatoes and yams, when it's not eating its own poop. Yes, you heard right: Naked mole rats eat their own and other mole rat's feces, in order to re-digest the hard tubers of its normal diet.
Several works by Dingo Pictures prominently feature a raccoon character that for some reason moves like a kangaroo!
One episode of The Snorks had what's clearly a baleen whale referred to as a killer whale. To make it worse, it seemed to be trying to eat a baby whale.
One episode of the 2006 edutainment series I'm An Animal had a white rhino that was actually white.
One episode of Dino Squad had a baby gorilla with a tail.
As pointed out on QI, dogs don't do it Doggy Style: Due to the coupling knot, they should be depicted tail-to-tail facing away from each other during climax.
Dogs don't have packs reliant on alpha males. In fact, feral dogs don't form packs and wolves don't form packs as generally conceived by mass media. Wolf packs tend to be organized like families from the old country, in which the old patriarch is in charge of all his descendants until the family gets so large and tensions so great that one of the kids decides to take his descendants elsewhere. The lay understanding of canine social behavior is based on findings with wolves tested in highly artificial captivity before scientists understood the influences of environment. The findings we generally not replicated, indicating that the reported structure was more how a particular group of unrelated wolves dealt with captivity. People generalized the findings to dogs because dogs and wolves are closely related. The Dog Whisperer is exceptionally incorrect in his claims and outright hated by the ethology community.
Many Furry Fandom artists who draw cats draw them with torsos that taper toward the hind legs like dog torsos. Cheetahs may have torsos that look a bit like that, but other cats have more or less parallel torsos.
There is also a slight tendency for some (but by no means all) Furry artists to presume that all mammals go about... certain activities… in ways similar to either Humans or Dogs, or at least how some people presume dogs to go about them (see above). Then again, an Acceptable Break from Reality as when did Rule 34 care about anatomical correctness even when it was just humans involved?
Any Christmas movie or TV special that shows female reindeer (a.k.a. caribou!) without antlers, or male reindeer retaining their antlers into December, Fails Biology Forever. Females of the species need antlers to guard their young from predators, whereas males shed theirs after the rutting season, with one exception: males retain antlers in winter if they have a "special operation". Older Christmas specials tend to show extremely dainty brown deer that don't resemble reindeer at all.
In almost all Christmas-related art or movies, at least for the animated ones, the reindeer tend to resemble Whitetail deer or Blackbuck antelope rather than actual Reindeer, being far too small and delicately built.
They're also never shown with the correct type of harness for pulling a sleigh. A proper harness places the burden on an animal's shoulders and flanks; in holiday art, they're usually shown dragging Santa along by leads tied to their necks, which would strangle them.
Many a work has depicted ferrets as being wild animals; even a few places where ferrets are illegal have made this mistake, much to ferret owners' dismay. Ferrets, the pet animal, are a domesticated animal—specifically, domesticated European Polecats (a kind of weasel)—which have been domesticated at least since Ancient Egypt, which some ferret owners unfortunately forget when they "release" them into the wild if they get tired of the ferret, leading to feral populations. It may be mix-up with the wild black-footed ferret, but the latter are highly endangered and generally live only where prairie dogs have a large population. Domesticated ferrets come from European stock, while Black-footed ferrets are uniquely American.
The urban legend of the "Mexican pet" loses any veneer of plausibility to anyone who has ever seen a rat up close, or knows anything about their behavior. Even an extremely near-sighted tourist would've surely caught on that an animal with grasping toes on all four feet, which climbs things and clutches food in its front paws while eating, can't possibly be a dog.
The use of the words alpha, beta, and omega in relation to wolves is considered outdated now, the logic being that these words imply a strict hierarchy where lower ranking wolves constantly vie for dominance, rather than the usually unchallenged family unit that a pack is. Wild wolves do not normally fight over dominance, instead they leave and form their own packs. These words are more suited for wolves in zoos and the like, who being unrelated individuals, have the strict hierarchy and vie for dominance like it was once assumed that all wolves do.