Friday, December 10, 2010
8 Coolest Animals
I like the fox for a number of reasons. One because they have a reputation for being sly, and as you'll notice on this list, I like smart animals. Secondly, they look cool with sleek fur, a bushy tail, and nice coloration. They were always my favourite animal as a kid, because I liked to think I was sly, and also maybe because of the Roald Dahl story, Fantastic Mr. Fox. I really need to see that movie. For some reason they were always badguys in the Redwall series, which saddened me, because I knew they were cool. Also I once saw this hilarious bit on a nature documentary (I think it was Planet Earth) where an arctic fox tried to fit a whole bunch of goslings into its mouth to bring back to its pups. It was probably the most morbidly funny scene from nature I've ever seen.
Most people detest these misunderstood birds, but I think they're awesome. They have the whole black symbol of death thing going for them, and in many legends they are clever trickster figures, and they certainly are more intelligent than most birds. They know how to get food just as well as they know how to avoid danger. If you ever bend over to the ground when near a crow they'll always fly off. Why? Because they suspect that you're picking up a pebble to throw at them. They don't just react to problems, they anticipate them. Plus, once when we were at a family reunion, my sister had the top of her burger stolen by a crow causing her great distress. And I have it on good authority that a friend of mine was once attacked by crows. That's hilarious! Crows are great.
Octopi (most say octopuses, but I prefer this plural form) are one of those rare creatures that looks simultaneously terrifying and absurd, but that's not the reason that their on this list. And it's not because they can squirt ink or fit through any crevice the size of it's nose. It's because they may very well be the smartest things in the ocean along with dolphins, but without that smug attitude. They often use their intelligence to solve problems and get food, but sometimes they just use it for their own personal amusement by doing things like juggling crabs, or cutting out power to lights near its aquarium. Some are even clever enough to leave their own aquariums and enter another to eat. And these are just the things they do in captivity. Just imagine what they're capable of in their own environment! Unless your Japanese, in which case please don't imagine anything else involving octopi.
Okapis may very well qualify as the most WTF?! looking animal on the planet. Their anatomy doesn't even make sense. It's as if after God created all the animals he had some spare parts left over and just haphazardly cobbled them all together. You've got zebra, deer, dingo, hyena, and like freakin dinosaurs in there. The more I look at it the less I understand what it is I am looking at. I think they're survival strategy is simply to confuse predators with their appearance. When Europeans first discovered them, they couldn't believe they were real. Every zoo and their dog wanted one. They're just too funky not to make a spot on this list. As an added bonus, their closest living relative is the giraffe. Go figure.
If the okapi defies logic, then the platypus is an affront biology. It's also a pretty weird looking animal, but their duck/beaver hybrid appearance is only scratching the surface of how strange these guys are. You probably also all know how they're mammals that lay eggs which is already a pretty big fuck you to everything we thought we knew about biology, but maybe you didn't know that they're also venomous. That's right, in Australia, even their monotremes (egg-laying mammals) can/will poison you. That not enough for you? Their beak isn't a mouth, but a sensory organ that allows them to detect electrical impulses. Want more? They walk like reptiles with their legs on the sides of their body rather than underneath. And that's not even all of it. Everything about them is different from anything else, and for that I salute them.
What's not to love about parrots? They're colourful, smart, long-lived, and you can train them to talk. Nobody would ever call these guys bird-brained due to their cleverness and imitative abilities. If I could teach a parrot any one word or phrase, it would have to be "Got any crackers?" because of that lame joke I like to tell (if you haven't heard it, then just ask next time you see me and I'll be sure to fill you in) or "Hermocrates" for those of you who remember playing Indian Jones and the Fate of Atlantis. Also, without parrots, we wouldn't have the famous "Dead Parrot" Monty Python sketch ("Dead Budgie" just doesn't have the same ring to it). You gotta give them chops for their lovely plumage.
Grizzly bears are easily the most majestic mammals in the northern hemisphere. Not only are they a great symbol of strength and ferocity, but in virtually every picture you can find of one they look absolutely glorious, especially when they're catching salmon. I think the most manly thing in the world would be to ride one. Imagine an entire bear cavalry. I'd surrender to to that army just on the grounds of how awesome they are. Honestly I don't know why Canada didn't make them our national animal. The Americans have bald eagles, which are pretty majestic birds, while all we have are beavers, moose, and geese. Screw all that nonsense, fucking grizzly bears are where its at.
Everyone has that one animal that they think is cute, and for me that's the weasel along with their brethren: stoats and ferrets. They're especially adorable when they do their weasel war dance which is like the weasel way of saying, "I'm a champeen!" Some people think of them as vermin, mostly farmers, but they're just misunderstood. They need to get food from somewhere, and chickens are easy targets. Like many other animals on this list, they have a reputation for being guileful. In fact one of my favourite Black Adder quotes is on this theme: "I have come up with a plan so cunning you could stick a tail on it and call it a weasel!" I don't know how well they actually live up to this reputation (based on some of the weasel war dances on Youtube, not very well), but they're pretty cool regardless.
Bonus points to whoever can up with something hilarious for a parrot to say.