My last post got me thinking, so here is a nominal set of interesting and strange animals I might consider putting around my Baroque pavilion.
• The Aye-Aye, a "native to Madagascar that combines rodent-like teeth with a long, thin middle finger to fill the same ecological niche as a woodpecker. It is the world's largest nocturnal primate, and is characterized by its unique method of finding food; it taps on trees to find grubs, then gnaws holes in the wood and inserts its elongated middle finger to pull the grubs out."
• The yeti lobster, a very recently-discovered creature which lives, of course, in deep-sea hydrothermal vents, where all the really weird and interesting creatures come from nowadays.
• The cyclops kitten was an accident, and unfortunately didn't live very long. Not totally unheard-of, just less horrible than most.
• Pill Bugs, or woodlice, or roly-polies, are weirder than you think: they are actually crustaceans, related more closely to lobsters and shrimp and so on than to insects or spiders. They are one of the world's old, (relatively) unchanged species, much, much older than the species I think of as old, like sharks and kauri trees, and they have some pretty interesting and strange habits.
• I thought the Liger was a joke when I first heard about it, along with its relative the Tigon. Or at least, some kind of hoax. But no, it's not - and they are enormous, I don't know why.
• My favorite creature: the Tarsier. I have a tiny picture clipped from a magazine of a tarsier staring with its trademark surprised look at the camera with a big bug sticking out of its mouth. For some reason, it's been a symbol for me of beloved dorks everywhere, and has inspired me to go on being silly despite everything.
• The Star-Nosed Mole is just odd. Always has been, always will be.
• Leafy Sea Dragons are something I have always wanted to see. They are endangered because they are so particular about their environment and eager collectors are always trying to take them home (where they die). But in their home environment - unbeatable.
• I had to include a Komondor because, although they aren't particularly exotic, they have great hair. They do make you scratch your head and wonder how many other strange kinds of dogs you didn't know about? (And yes, they look like a tall version of Dougal, from the Magic Roundabout)
• Grimpoteuthis, or Dumbo Octopi, are benthic creatures, living at extreme depths (up to 400 meters), and are some of the rarest octopi. Plus they use at least three different types of locomotion. Cool.
• Blobfish. What can I say?
There are a few others who aren't quite weird enough, such as Cantor's Giant Soft-Shelled Turtle,
the Long-eared jerboa,
or Pink fairy Armadillos, but they're definitely strange. If I had space, I might consider them.
Come to think of it, many of the above creatures are a bit too attractive. I'd want to make my menagerie a bit more creepy, but the strangest and most disturbing creatures I know of are all parasites, which would make them difficult to display - except in jars, and that is really something more for a Cabinet.
Just for balance, though, perhaps I ought to include the Coconut Crab, a giant terrestrial hermit crab. I do find myself actually glad that I don't live where these creatures roam, cracking coconuts and garbage cans with their bare claws (thanks, Jeff!).
In any case, my beautifully-constructed, circular, conceptual menagerie needs only a beautiful (borrowed) pavilion to complete it, and I can go to sleep secure in the knowledge that I have expressed all the (borrowed) power and wealth I have to hand. Who needs royalty after all?
Thanks to World's Strangest Looking Animals for some of the pictures.