Creatures from science fiction and fantasy can be used to illustrate key concepts and principles in biology. This article describes a project for a university-level general zoology course wherein the students classify, down to at least the phylum level, “animals” from the Alien Species Wiki (2013). This is an online database of creatures from television, film, literature, and games. The primary challenges that the students faced were overly fantastical hybridizations and assigning reality-based classification mechanisms to fictional beings, but the project is a useful exercise in creativity, knowledge of diagnostic characteristics, and the wonder of discovery of new, previously unexplainable physio-morphologies.
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Vol. 75 • No. 4