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Somewhere, a Mammalogist Is Crying

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Dr. Meridian: Well, let's just say that I could write a hell of a paper on a grown man who dresses like a flying rodent.
Batman: Bats aren't rodents, Dr. Meridian.

Most writers are mammals, yet we still get some things wrong about 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, lipotyphlans or "insectivorans"); bats (chiropterans); and weasels (carnivorans).

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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. An especially egregious example is when woolly mammoths are portrayed in a tropical or dry environment, despite the long fur being meant for insulation against cold temperature.

People also draw male kangaroos with pouches, which only the females possess; elephants drinking with their trunks instead of sucking up the liquid with their trunks and then squirting it into their mouths, like real elephants; gorillas beating their chests with clenched fists, rather than open or cupped hands like real gorillas; rabbits with paw pads and button noses like a cat or a dog, as opposed to the fur-covered paws and "V"-shaped noses real rabbits have; and on and on.

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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, Killer Gorilla, Somewhere, an Equestrian Is Crying and Wolves Always Howl at the Moon. See also Funny Animal Anatomy and Misplaced Wildlife.


Examples:

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    Advertising 
  • 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.
  • Blue Buffalo's advertising for dog and cat foods like comparing pets to their wild relatives. Their dog food ads are passable because dogs are a sub-species of gray wolf, but their cat food ads compare domestic cats to their distant relatives, such as mountain lions, rather than their closer relatives, such as the African wildcat.

    Anime & 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. 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.
    • Time travelers pontificate about how the mammoths are/were doomed because there was an evolutionary trend for the tusk tips to overlap. There were already two rather successful species of mammoths (the Columbian and Imperial) in North America with tusks that had overlapping tips.
  • Wolf's Rain: 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—although realistic ones would be hard to animate. The only visually realistically 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.
  • Holo of Spice and Wolf has completely light brown hair (in both wolf and humanoid form), as do the non-magical wolves she associates with.
  • An aversion occurs in Wolf Children Ame and Yuki when it's explained that traditional werewolf lore as transforming by the full moon and eating people are actually false, alluding to the fact that wolves don't actually howl at the moon and they very rarely prey on humans.
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    Art 
  • 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 than extended outwards.
  • One very early European artistic depiction of Mauritius (by an artist who had never been there) shows a fruit bat perched in a tree, hanging BY ITS THUMBS. And no, it wasn't shown relieving itself, which is the only time you will see one holding itself in such a position. Otherwise, they either hang by their feet like any other self-respecting bat, or use both their feet and their thumbs, monkey-style. Even worse, the particular species depicted is so large and heavy that it spends much of its time on the ground.

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animated 
  • 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. Belly lines only appear on baleen whales, and sperm whales are toothed whales. Not to mention his head is much too wide and his mouth is cavernous; real sperm whales have laterally-flattened heads with a skinny lower jaw.
  • Ice Age:
    • 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 series also has a habit of playing very loose with geography. There are several species mixed in that are South American.
    • The glyptodonts in the series are depicted with armor plating on their bellies and the ability to retract into their shells just like turtles.
    • Sid and the other sloths walk perpetually upright and flat on their feet (sloths walk on all fours and on the sides of their feet, not unlike an anteater), and have heads shaped like a hammerhead. They also have noses more like a dog's, though it's most likely ground sloths had pig-like noses since both 3-toed and 2-toed sloths have them.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Disney's The Jungle Book and Goliath II have elephant herds led by a male. In real life, female elephants lead herds while males are solitary.
  • Dumbo briefly showed a family of hyenas laughing. Said hyenas are shown to be striped hyenas, which do not make the "laughing" sounds like their spotted cousins.
  • Peter and the Wolf: At one point in the 2006 animated adaption, the wolf slashes Peter across the face with its claws. While this is not technically impossible, it is still odd for a wolf. Wolf claws are dull because they are used for traction while running and cannot be retracted. Swatting with a paw is a very cat-like action, and not something canines tend to do because they rely mainly on their jaws for fighting. Also, wolves and other canines would have difficulty slashing like that because their shoulders don't easily allow for that kind of motion.
  • Tarzan:
    • Tarzan's often able to win over others' sympathy through his eyes, including the gorillas. In reality, gorillas do not like direct eye contact, perceiving it as a challenge. Locking eyes with one of them is demanding a fight.
    • A human walking on his knuckles as Tarzan does would be extremely painful, and cause severe damage to the bones in the hands. Gorillas get away with this due to thicker knuckle bones and arms longer than their legs, unlike humans. As he's spent most of his life walking on all fours, Tarzan's pretty fortunate that his back isn't wrecked as well.
    • The alpha baboon has the colorful face of a mandrill, something real baboons lack.
    • The female African elephants in the film are portrayed without tusks. Female Asian elephants have no tusks, but African ones do.
    • Played for Laughs with Tantor's trunk, which he accurately uses as a snorkel like real elephants... and as a periscope, complete with radar noises! Does he have eyes inside his trunk? Or maybe it's just a visual representation of him sniffing?
    • In a scene, gorillas are shown eating termites, fishing for them with sticks. While lowland gorillas do occasionally eat termites, only certain tribes of chimpanzees use a stick to fish for them.
    • Sabor, the leopard that killed Tarzan's family when he was only an infant, is somehow still alive and dangerous when Tarzan is an 18-20 year old adult, despite the fact that leopards don't usually live past their late teens. There are exceptions, but such an elderly cat would definitely not be so insanely fast and agile.
    • Sabor is shown to have slitted pupils. Big cats actually have round pupils, while slit-pupils are present only in smaller cats.
    • Albeit with great difficulty, Tarzan does manage to physically hold Kerchak back to stop him from attacking Jane. Though it is difficult to gauge their strength with any precision, a silverback male gorilla usually tips the scales at about 400 pounds and is many times strong than any human. A human attempting to take on an angry silverback in real life would literally be crushed in a heartbeat.
    • Hippos are portrayed as docile and passive creatures, one is even shown letting young Tarzan ride on its snout. Anyone with even a faint familiarity with hippos knows that in Real Life they're the exact opposite. Luckily, this is fixed in the TV series. Hippos are also shown feeding on water plants in the daytime, something real hippos don't do.
    • It's easy to miss, but Professor Porter refers to rhinos and baboons as Rhinoceros bihornius and Theropithecus babunious respectively, neither of which are the actual scientific names of any real life species of rhinoceros or baboon. Rhinoceros bicornis was the actual scientific name of the black rhinoceros during the time period the movie takes place, though (it was renamed to Diceros bicornis in 1911, with the genus Rhinoceros kept for the one-horned Asian species). Theropithecus is a legitimate genus, but it refers to the gelada, a cousin of baboons living in the Ethiopian highlands, while baboons belong to the genus Papio.
    • On the other hand, this is averted when Kerchak pounds his chest; he does it with open hands like real gorillas, rather than clenched fists like in most cartoons. Unfortunately, the TV series forgets this and has gorillas pound their chests with clenched fists.
  • The Fox and the Hound: During his battle with Copper, Tod is memorably shown with a very fierce snarl. Foxes can't actually make that face. When they do growl or snarl, their muzzles don't wrinkle like that. Tod's snarl is more like a dog, wolf, or coyote.
  • Balto:
    • Jenna is a red Siberian Husky. While "red" Siberian Huskies do exist, they're more of a brownish tone than a bright red. Jenna's fur invokes Heroes Want Redheads more than the actual colour does.
    • Balto himself is absurdly tame and well-mannered for a feral wolf-dog. The real Balto was a normal pet dog (either a Husky or Malamute depending on the source), explaining this.
    • In Balto II: Wolf Quest, Balto's daughter Aleu is noted as being more wolfish than even her father. Considering that she's a second generation wolf-dog (and her mother is a purebred Husky), this is very unlikely. Her fur color isn't even wolf-looking: she has brown fur and blue eyes.
  • Leo the Lion: What's not wrong with the animals in this film? Well, here are a few examples:
    • Leo's pride shows five male lions running the pride, when real-life prides have one or two males in charge. Five male lions in charge is begging for lots of infighting for power.
    • As lions are obligate carnivores, they can't choose to be vegetarians. Leo's body frame, which the movie tries to say is good because of a vegetarian lifestyle, is less sleek and more emaciated.
    • Due to the way embryos are formed, it'd be impossible for baby elephants' tails to be connected at birth.
    • Leo and Uncle Lope the antelope force a female zebra to give milk to the baby animals. She's shown to have nipples on the stomach (more like a dog or a cat) as opposed to having an udder between the legs like real-life zebras and other equines. The same can almost be said for Savannah the elephant, who nurses her calves like a mother dog or cat (her teats would be on the chest, not the stomach).
    • Leo and Savannah's Mix-and-Match Critter babies. That is all.
  • Bolt:
    • Bolt is a tiny, tiny White Shepherd. At his adult size he's the same size as a house cat. He's puppy-sized, not adult-sized. Another White Shepherd is shown, and it's the same size, so it isn't just Bolt being unusually small.
    • Mittens is declawed stray cat. In real cats, this involves removing part of their paws, which often leads to physical pain on top of difficulties hunting.
  • It seems that the bulls and cows of Barnyard and its spinoff Back at the Barnyard are separate species. Case in point, Otis is a male cow and one episode has a female bull. In the video game adaptation Otis squirts what the devs probably wish you thought was milk.
  • Marty from Madagascar is treated as if he's having a Hollywood Mid-Life Crisis at age ten. While it's true that wild zebras have a life expectancy of twenty-five, captive zebras have a life expectancy of forty.
  • Several works by Dingo Pictures prominently feature a raccoon, a squirrel, and two gophers that for some reason move like kangaroos! Legend of Atlantis had dolphins with nostrils on the base of their beaks instead of blowholes on the top of their heads. Balto had a seal with buckteeth that moves around on land.
  • In Watership Down, the Heartbeat Soundtrack at the end of the "Bright Eyes" sequence is from a human heart, not the much, much faster one of a rabbit.
  • Zootopia features a few domesticated-looking Funny Animals such as sheep and pigs. However, the movie's premise is that humans never existed to produce a domesticated version of this animals.
  • In Tom Sawyer (2000), Tom's skunk classmate has a clothespin near the tip of his tail, which was pointless as skunk musk actually comes from anal glands.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 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 over a large area).
    • It's funny that they make fun of the "apes mistaken for monkeys" thing in the Planet of the Apes (2001) 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 Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, 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 or bushbaby.
  • 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.
  • Wolfen claims that wolves — not just its urban superwolves, but real ones — have thermographic vision.
  • In Guardians of the Galaxy Rocket is frequently referred to as a rodent. Besides the fact that raccoons are part of the Order carnivora, Rocket himself isn't even a raccoon, just a genetically modified alien that looks like one. On the other hand, it's justified in that it's normally said derogatorily, something which Rocket drunkenly makes clear actually hurts him immensely on Knowhere.
  • An infamous example in Beastmaster, with the very un-ferret-like behavior and vocalizations by Kodo and Podo. Several scenes show the ferrets gnawing through ropes in a manner more typical of movie-hero rodents, and although ferrets do have vocalizations, they rarely make them outside of play or as an alarm call, and certainly don't make the squeaking sounds they're depicted making in the films. The pair of them are also identical in size, yet are shown to have produced babies at the end; real male ferrets are much larger than females.

    Literature 
  • Mariel of Redwall, of the Redwall series, mentions Gabool the Wild having gold replacements for his canine teeth. Sadly, he is a rat, and rats do not have canine teeth to begin with. Judging by the illustrations of Gabool, the author may have meant his incisors.
  • In the books, movie, and PBS kids TV show, Curious George is referred to as a monkey even though he resembles a chimpanzee. And yet, 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. And even if George was a chimpanzee, it would still be technically accurate to call him a monkey considering modern taxonomy.
  • 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. Considering that he swings from his tail, it still invokes this trope. Mice do not have prehensile tails, nor can the tails support the weight of a mouse for more than a couple of seconds.
  • 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 ("insectivorans" of traditional usage), 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 Potter Fan Fiction.
    • J.K. Rowling herself seems to have gotten this even more wrong, as Wormtail's transformation in the third novel mentions his tail slipping through one of the manacles he'd been wearing in his human form. Unless he'd been wearing the manacles clamped around his coccyx, his tail had no business being inside one, in the first place.
  • The 2015 edition of Guinness World Records repeatedly calls elephants ungulates, i.e. hoofed mammals. One look at their feet should tell you why this isn't correct. Their closest living relatives are dugongs, manatees and hyraxes, and any relation to actual hoofed mammals is far, far removed.
    • To make things worse, it cites the African elephant as the largest ungulate. Elephants aren't ungulates, but whales are.
  • Rick Riordan referred to weasels as rodents in The Heroes of Olympus: The House of Hades.
  • In A Night in the Lonesome October, the bat Needle eats three grapes and a plum without his stomach exploding. The largest bat species in Europe is only half the size of a plum, and it's a bird-eating carnivore.
    • Bubo, being a pack rat, has no business being in England or scavenging the Good Doctor's research leavings. Pack rats are North American, and herbivorous.
  • People Of The Wolf: Elephants do not keep harems, and there is no reason to assume mammoths were any different. Living elephants segregate by sex: females live in herds with their immature offspring, and males are mostly solitary, though sometimes they associate with other males. As mammoths are such close kin of Asian elephants (roughly 99 percent genetically identical) there is no reason to depict them living like horses instead of like their living relatives.
  • Among other inaccuracies and instances of Science Marches On, Moby-Dick has a substantial section in which the narrator tries to argue that whales aren't mammals and that anyone who thinks they are is delusional. The extent to which this is supposed to be tongue-in-cheek—if at all—is left for the reader to decide.
  • Jan Brett's children's book Honey... Honey... Lion! not only utilizes the apocryphal myth (commonly depicted as fact in older sources) that honeyguide birds lead honey badgers to bee hives, but also has the honey badger being frightened by a lion... despite the fact that honey badgers in real life are known nowadays for being vicious and virtually unstoppable in spite of their small size, and could easily fight off a lion with little to no difficulty.
  • Survivors:
    • Realistically, a lot of the dogs should have a tougher time surviving in the wild than depicted. Sweet, for example, is a Greyhound. Due to their low body fat, they're known for getting injured very easily and getting cold very easily. Sweet still fares perfectly well in cold forest environments and is powerful enough to quickly become a Beta and then later become an Alpha. Alfie is also pretty athletic for a British Bulldog. He's never shown any difficulty keeping up with the other dogs. Bulldogs in general are known for only being able to run in spurts due to breathing issues.
    • Dogs are depicted as monogamous, unlike real dogs. This is accurate for the wolf characters, however dogs aren't monogamous like Grey Wolves are.
    • Dogs follow the outdated pack hierarchy system. Alphas are the leaders, betas are the second-in command, omegas are the lowest of the caste, everything is decided with fighting, etc. This system is considered inaccurate to how wolf packs actually work. It's fine for the protagonists as they're unrelated dogs, but Alpha implies all packs should be like this.
    • The dogs do not like scavenging on waste left by longpaws, finding it demeaning and unsuitable for wild dogs. However, real feral dogs do scavenge a lot (possibly more than they hunt). Real feral and stray dogs are also awfully clumsy hunters compared to wolves, but the dogs in Survivors are much more effective.
    • The characters form packs like wolves. Studies have indicated that domestic dogs don't do this. They scavenge (or hunt) smaller prey either individually or in parallel from one another.
    • Sweet has a lengthy screaming birth. Dog births are usually much easier and less painful than human births.
    • The Fierce Dogs are vicious but dimwitted dogs. In real life, Dobermann's are a notoriously intelligent breed. They're, in fact, considered one of the smartest dog breeds. The Fierce Dogs are also naturally blood-thirsty, with even the White Sheep Storm being unusually violent for a pup. Dobermann's (especially American ones) aren't nearly as dog aggressive as the Angry Guard Dog trope makes them seem.
    • Alfie is a "small" dog that is so fragile he's killed with one hit of Alpha's (a German Shepherd/wolf hybrid) paw. Alfie is a Bulldog, which are on average 18-23 kg (40-50 lb).
    • Foxes are described as living in "packs" and having "cubs". A group of foxes is actually a "skulk" or "leash" while the most common term for a young fox is a "kit". This could all be choked up to dogs using their terminology on foxes, except that there's a fox kit named "Cub Fire".
  • Seekers: "She-bear" is not an actual term for female bears. Female bears are called "sows".
  • Bravelands:
    • Baboons are referred to as having "claws". In reality, baboons have nails like humans.
    • Baboons have the ability to create rudimentary tools. Chimpanzees have shown this ability, but not baboons.
    • Zigzagged with the way lions taking over prides is presented. It is mentioned that lions usually kill the previous cubs of the pride. Titan attempts this but ultimately decides to let Valor live.
  • Tailchaser's Song:
    • Spayed and neutered cats become chubby and lazy. It's also shown that tomcats become almost indistinguishable from females after being neutered. In real life, neutering making cats lazy is a myth and cats don't have any issues distinguishing between neutered and intact males.
    • Due to Science Marches On, some of the cat's behavior is inaccurate. For example, cats are actually more social than was assumed in the 1980s.
  • None of the city cats in Varjak Paw can hunt for food. Pigeons are too fast for them, so they scavenge off of human scraps instead. This is unlikely for cats. At least some of them should be able to hunt.
  • In the Spellsinger novels, shrews are repeatedly referred to as rodents. At the time the books were written, they were considered members of the now-defunct Insectivore order (they've since been moved to a new order, Eulipotyphla).

    Live-Action Television 
  • 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), dingoes, bats, and various sea mammals.
  • The Sesame Street segment "African Animal Alphabet" states that "C is for cheetah running underneath the moon". Cheetahs are diurnal.
  • An episode of the Animal Planet series Pets 101 claimed that kinkajous are marsupials, when they're actually members of the raccoon family.
  • The Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode featuring King Dinosaur has Joel and the 'Bots mistaking a kinkajou for a lemur.
  • Lampshaded in the Modern Family episode “Truth Be Told”. To cover up his role in the death of his turtle, Jay tells Manny that a raccoon killed him. Manny counters this by noting aspects of his story that are inconsistent with raccoon biology.
  • The Animal Planet show Breed All About It teaches about different breeds of dogs. Despite this, not all their facts are correct. For example, they mentioned that English Bulldogs were bred so wrinkly to help keep blood out of their eyes during bull-fighting. This is incorrect as Bulldogs in the 1800s were less wrinkly and had longer muzzles.

    Music 
  • The otherwise, accurate They Might Be Giants song, "Mammal", which explains the common traits of various mammals, as well as lists several different examples... that is until they list koala "bears", which are actually marsupials, not bears.

    Tabletop Games 
  • 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.

    Toys 
  • Beanie Babies:
    • A weasel-like Beanie Baby named Runner has Mustelidae officially listed as its species. The "mean poem" that the toy was originally released with 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 mustelids, 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 eat largely eat marine invertebrates and fish. While sea otters do sometimes wrap themselves in seaweed, the purpose is to anchor themselves while they sleep.
  • Barbie:
    • The Barbie Newborn Pups toy has a dog who gives birth to puppies via pushing down on her legs. Except that the puppies are "born" by falling straight down from her abdomen rather than coming out from under her tail, where a dog's vaginal opening actually is.

    Video Games 
  • A few examples in World of Warcraft
    • 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.
    • The wolf mounts, and by extension all wolf mobs using the worg model run nothing like an actual wolf would run. Wolf mobs using the alternative wolf model run pretty much properly.
  • Donkey Kong:
    • 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 non-human apes DON'T come in.
  • Clanker from Banjo-Kazooie is claimed to be a metal whale note  despite the fact that he has gills. His teeth also make him look like a shark.
  • Ape Escape: Pretty much okay as a title for the game, yet everyone seems to call the titular primates monkeys. This is a case of Lost in Translation, as the original title was "saru getchu"; Saru meaning monkey. Although this becomes a case of Accidentally Correct Writing, when you realize apes are technically monkeys or simians.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • 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 Western cartoons also had Dr. Robotnik derisively call Sonic a "rodent", which hedgehogs are not.
    • Several countries mistranslated "hedgehog" as "porcupine"(though ironically, Sonic being a porcupine would make Robotnik's "rodent" assessment accurate).
    • Sonic's inability to swim was due to Sega thinking real hedgehogs couldn't swim, when they actually can.
    • Sonic's favourite food is chili dogs, which are mentioned in Sonic Unleashed as being quite spicy. Humans are the only animals who willingly eat spicy foods, as spiciness is supposed to be a deterrent that plants use to stop animals from eating them.
    • Sonic's best friend is a fox. In real life, foxes eat hedgehogs.
    • Even ignoring the biological impossibility of a fox being born with two tails, there is no way, anatomically speaking, that Tails should be able to spin his tails like a propeller to lift himself into the air the way that he does - spinning both tails in the opposite direction, which would just result in them getting twisted together. And even if he did spin them in the same direction, it's very unlikely he'd be able to spin them fast enough to actually provide enough lift to get his body off the ground.
    • In Sonic Unleashed, a Running Gag is Chip offering chocolate to whomever he meets. This includes Tails (a fox) and a phoenix (a giant bird). Chocolate is very bad for animals. Notably, Sonic is also able to consume chocolate, ice cream, and other things that would make a real hedgehog very sick, if not outright kill them.
  • In Scribblenauts, writing "monotreme" gives you a porcupine (not an echidna, an actual porcupine).
  • Far Cry 3:
    • Tapirs can be killed by chasing them into water so they drown (even though real tapirs take to the water to escape predators). Not to mention they are referred to as "Asian tapirs", when they have the coloring of a Baird's tapir (native to South America). Interestingly, the game also has a Malayan tapir, but it's referred to as a "white-bellied tapir" and is regarded as an alternative skin coloring.
    • White tigers are portrayed with yellow eyes, despite having blue eyes in real life. This mistake is fixed in Far Cry 4.
  • In Labyrinths of the World: Shattered Soul a hedgehog, once fed, curls up and rolls away like a soccer ball.
  • The Magic School Bus Explores the World of Animals:
    • A springhare is portrayed as a rabbit, despite being correctly described as resembling a cross between a mouse and a kangaroo.
    • The game states jaguars do not roar, when they do in real life (and are shown doing so in the game).
  • The in-game databank of Ōkami erroneously refers to hares as rodents (they're actually lagomorphs).
  • Nintendogs:
    • Nintendogs + Cats each breed comes in multiple colours, however in real life many of the breeds have very few, if any, varying patterns according to Breed Standards. This means several dogs have fake fur colours, such as Malteses with spots.
    • You can feed the dogs and cats milk. This would result in diarrhea for actual weaned pets.
  • The life sim Wolf uses the outdated wolf hierarchy system. This was known to be outdated even at the time of release.

    Web Comics 
  • 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  unnatural colors for those animals. This is intentional, it indicates the color of their spirits.
  • 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.

    Web Original 
  • 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".
  • This customer from Not Always Right, who believes that chickens are mammals because they "have meat."
  • The short film Dream Come True (A Mule Mom's Story) has a "coyote" that is clearly a wolf that just sounds like a coyote. It also has a Golden Pheasant who looks like a chicken.

    Western Animation 
  • Phineas and Ferb:
    • In one episode, 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. This could probably be chalked up to anthropomorphism.
  • 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.
  • Kim Possible: Ron Stoppable has a pet naked mole rat named Rufus that he carries around with him. This would be incredibly difficult in real life as, despite being mammals, naked mole rats are eusocial and cold-blooded, relying on the warmth of their colony or the coolness of their inner dens to regulate body temperature. Rufus is also shown eating cheese, but real naked mole rats eat potatoes and yams (multiple times, as they even eat their own poop to re-digest them).
  • One episode of The Snorks had what's clearly a baleen whale referred to as a killer whale. To make it worse (and even more confusing), it is shown trying to eat a baby whale like a killer whale would, despite its lack of teeth.
  • One episode of the 2006 edutainment series I'm An Animal had a black rhino with only one horn and a white rhino that was actually white.
  • One episode of Dino Squad had a baby gorilla with a tail.
  • In the animated Watership Down series, all the rabbits have pads on the bottoms of their paws.
  • Episode 7 of W.I.T.C.H. has a scene with a fox hunting a rabbit. The fox makes noises that are probably stock dog noises, and the rabbit squeaks like a rodent.
  • One episode of The Magic School Bus features a possum making rodent noises.
  • Elmer Fudd, an episode of The Angry Beavers, and Mr. Whiskers erroneously call rabbits rodents.
  • The Old Man of the Mountain: The animal at the beginning, which is apparently a mountain lion, has a mane. Unlike lions (which are a different species), mountain lions do not have manes. This may or may not have been intended as a Visual Pun.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Tigers are constantly portrayed as being only orange with black stripes, lacking the white on their muzzles, cheeks, paws, and undersides. "Luca$", however, showed a tiger with realistic colors and patterns.
    • The koalas in "Eight Misbehavin'" are shown devouring the carcass of an antelope without ill effects, even though koalas can only ingest gum (or eucalyptus) leaves. They are also drawn with only one thumb instead of two, though that may be because everyone has Four-Fingered Hands.
    • In "Bonfire of the Manatees", Caleb claims manatees and dugongs are the same animal, when they aren't (though they are both sirenians aka sea cows). Manatees are also portrayed being able climb onto dry land like seals, whereas they are purely aquatic dwellers.
    • In the third act of "Treehouse of Horror XI", dolphins have no trouble moving on land (by Tailfin Walking) and are not worried about dehydration or sunburn. Plus there's the whole "dolphins used to live on land until humans banished them into the ocean where they suffered for millions of years" thing.note  Of course, the Treehouse of Horror episodes aren't known for realism anyways. They did throw in a bit of accuracy by having King Snorky's mouth not sync when he speaks, referencing to the fact dolphins use their blowholes for communication since they cannot breathe through their mouths.
    • "Simpson Safari" has a rhino hatching from an egg, a giraffe living underground, and a hippo being afraid of water. All of which are Played for Laughs and lampshaded by Lisa.
    • Rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks, and guinea pigs are frequently drawn with button noses and vaguely human-like faces, though exceptions have occurred.
    • Sloths, bighorn sheep, and elks are drawn with noses more like a dog's than in real life.
    • Averted in "Homer's Phobia", which showed reindeer that actually look like reindeer for once.
    • "E-I-E-I-(Annoyed Grunt)" had a clearly male Asian elephant (complete with visible tusks) referred to as female.
  • Sandy Cheeks of SpongeBob SquarePants has a pink cat-like nose and protruding incisors, none of which are real life features of squirrels. She also hibernates during the winter like a ground squirrel, despite being meant to be a tree squirrel.
  • In Voltron: Legendary Defender, Lance is able to milk the cow he and he fellow Paladins got from the shopping mall in the far reaches of the universe, despite it very likely having no mate or offspring.
  • In The Adventures of Puss in Boots, Pajuna the Highland cow provides milk to her customers at her bar despite having no husband or children.
  • Chip 'n Dale both have dog-like noses and short deer-like tails, something real chipmunks do not have.
  • One episode of the 2007 version of George of the Jungle has a rhinoceros skeleton with the horns still intact as if they were bones. A rhino's horn is made up of keratin, so when the animal dies it would have rotted away with the flesh if not quicker.
  • On Wild Animal Baby Explorers, Sammy the skunk often lets loose with a spray when upset about something. This is treated as being a minor thing at most, rather than the big stink it ought to be.
  • Annabelle's Wish depicts reindeer with button noses instead of moose-like snouts that they have in real life.
  • The titular character of Yakkity Yak is depicted with moose-like antlers rather than the horns real yaks possess.
  • The Little Mermaid depicts humpback whales with teeth instead of baleens.
  • The Angry Beavers:
    • Norbert and Daggett hardly resemble actual beavers, which is frequently lampshaded throughout the show. They still have white incisors and actually eat wood stereotypical of cartoon beavers.
    • The episode "Moby Dopes" has an orca that eats humans, something real orcas don't do.


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