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Scientists are debating the ‘best beard’ in nature and, just saying, all entrants are highly qualified

Scientists are debating the ‘best beard’ in nature and, just saying, all entrants are highly qualified

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After duking it out over nature’s most beautiful spotted and striped animals, scientists on Twitter are now submitting some good beards for consideration. You can check out all of them via the hashtag #BestBeard, but just so you know there are definitely some tweets with that hashtag that have absolutely nothing to do with the important discussion at hand.

This particular debate was kicked off by Dustin Ranglack, an assistant professor at the University of Nebraska at Kearney who specializes in mammal ecology and conservation. He named a bison’s beard as nature’s best beard, but no one agreed with him (which is what makes this fun, so it’s fine!).

I honestly don’t know what team to be on because all of the beards I’ve seen here today are highly qualified for the title of “best beard.” Beards on animals are funny. Beards on people are funny if it’s the right beard!

The muskox has an edge because, as one scientist points out, its name in Greenlandic is “ummimaq,” which translates to “bearded one.” Also, because it’s a freaking cutie.

Ultimately I think my vote has to go to the bearded saki at the top of this post, if only because he looks a lot like the music teacher on my favorite television program Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide. They live in groups of 18 to 30, mostly near the Amazon River, and communicate using “bird-like twitter.” Essentially they have my ideal lifestyle: just a close group of generally silent pals tweeting all day while crawling around in the trees. Their life expectancy is about 15 years, which sounds good enough. They eat nuts, plants, insects, and small animals. Same! The black bearded saki depicted above has been designated as “critically endangered” by the IUCN’s Red List, thanks to its susceptibility to habitat loss (trees!) and hunting. So while I love the saki, the saki has good reason not to love me —  a human being, a member of the species quickly remaking the globe into a hot, treeless swamp.

Anyway, please leave your favorite bearded animal in the comments. Please don’t put 100 pictures of Santa Claus even though it is his special week. And Williamsburg doesn’t qualify as “nature.” Those are the only rules.