The Fonz was cool. I never was. But I do appreciate cool. Not the hipster cool that passes for cool these days. Truly cool, in the way a ’65 Corvette is cool and no Porsche will ever be.
Some animals are cool. They are impossibly cool. And for me, they’re not always the obvious ones.
Any and all Arachnidae Spiders, scorpions, and the rest may not be everybody’s cup of tea, I can see that. But they’re very old, and are very good at their job, which is survival. You can’t knock hundreds of millions of years.
All crocodilians Crocodiles, alligators, caimans, and the gharial are way cool. Again they’ve been around for a long, long time, and they grow big so must be successful.
Selachimorpha Official name for sharks. Nobody in their right minds would deny sharks a place in the pantheon of coolness. From the humble dogfish to those bloody great things that can rip a boat to bits, they are wickedly cool. One of the best of the bunch is the basking shark that has a mouth the size of a small car, and is a gentle filter feeder. Little known fact. Sharks do not have a bony skeleton. They’re members of the Elasmobranchs, cartilaginous fish. No bones.
All Strigiformes How can you not think owls are cool? Come on, be serious. They’re exceptionally lovely to look at, efficient, and the only creatures known that can turn their heads through a full 360 degrees. Plus when an owl looks at you, you get the impression it’s looking into the darker reaches of your psyche, laying bare your worst secrets. Just as well they can’t speak, I’d say.
Oniscideae This is a weird choice, but woodlice are up there in the cool stakes. Why? Well, because most people think that woodlice are insects, and they’re not. They’re crustaceans, related to prawns and lobsters. They made a career decision way back when, and said, ‘Hey! Know what? I bet we can do really well on land.’ They seem to have done OK.
Cephalopods Octopus, squid, cuttlefish… They are truly amazing if you see them in the wild. Octopuses are masters of disguise, with almost unlimited camouflage abilities because of the chromatophores in their skin. Squid and cuttlefish can use chromatophores to produce rippling and colourful patterns that confuse and almost mesmerise their prey. In attack mode they look like the mothership out of ‘Close Encounters…’ Also octopuses are insatiably curious. Get one of those on your facemask while you’re scuba diving, and it will have a tentacle in your ear and another one down your demand valve as soon as look at you. See an octopus on its home ground, simply being beautiful and cool, and you’ll never eat one again.
Chelonidae Let’s face it, tortoises, turtles, terrapins are as cool as hell. They live for hundreds of years, have been around for an awfully long time. They can afford to be a bit arsey, a bit bad tempered. I just think they are cool. Ever see a turtle off a coral reef, you’ll agree with me. Chelonids rock.
Felix domesticus The domestic cat, except they haven’t yet noticed they’re domesticated. They’re wilful, snotty, disdainful, and have a major attitude problem. They only show affection when you’re feeling ill, and it is not because they are worried about your wellbeing. They’re worried you won’t be able to get downstairs and feed them. Brilliant.
For my money, cats have got the cool title. You may not agree, but you’ll be wrong.