It's another day where I get to pick what to write about, so I'm going to write about my very favorite "things." It's more of a category, I suppose, rather than something specific, but what I love most in the world are animals.
I have loved animals as long as I can remember, and in a way it seems odd to come out and say that, because for me, there was never a time when I wasn't fascinated with animals and I think for large parts of my life, I just assumed that everyone else felt the same way. I mean they're just so COOL, why on earth wouldn't people love them? Sadly, not everyone does. (I say "sadly" because I think a lack of love and respect for other animals on the part of humans is a major contributing factor to the overconsumption of resources that is happening now on our planet). Really, though, what's not to love? There's an animal to tickle just about anyone's fancy - whether you like things that are furry and cuddly, or scaly, or feathery, fast or slow, majestic or humble, maybe a little bit (or a lot) scary. Or just plain cute. Animals are the reason I am majoring in biology - because I want to help conserve them and their habitats, and becoming a scientist seemed the best way for me to do that.
I did have a realization recently regarding animals: I love almost all of them. Honestly. On an individual level, there are a few animals (cats and dogs, mostly) whom I don't really like just because of their particular personality traits (kind of the way there are humans I don't like). But on the species level, there are very few animals for which I don't have at least some appreciation. I think this started in childhood in an unconscious, or maybe subconscious kind of way. I became aware that there were animals that lots of people didn't like - snakes, spiders, bats, for example - and for some reason I decided that it totally wasn't cool for these animals to get dissed, so I liked them even though I often got weird looks for admitting it. (And sometimes still do, although when I'm with other biology geeks that tends not to be an issue). From there, it just seemed to grow until recently I realized that it's difficult for me to think of animals that I just plain don't like. Cockroaches aren't a favorite, but mosquitoes? I like them just a little bit. Naked mole rats are hideously ugly, but that doesn't stop me from having a tiny soft spot in my heart for them. Sharks terrify me, but I think they are incredibly cool. There are some insects that I think are quite ugly, and I wouldn't want them crawling on me, but that doesn't mean I wish they didn't exist. Fleas, on the other hand, completely repulse me. Okay, so that's cockroaches and fleas that are on the "dislike" list. Feel free to throw out suggestions of other animals that it seems likely one might hate, and I'll let you know how I stand. Well, I suppose the other species that should be mentioned are humans. Also, not really a favorite in many ways. Oh sure, some of my very favorite creatures are human - in particular the one to whom I gave birth. But as a species? I think we are parasitic and destructive and a hell of a lot stupider (and more driven by instinct) than we believe ourselves to be. But, considering that there are several humans I really do love, I suppose I won't include us on the "dislike" list. So, still just cockroaches and fleas. Oh, I suppose I could also add ticks and lice.
There are, of course, some animals that I like better than others. Some that, in fact, I absolutely LOVE. So, here's a list, off the top of my head. My apologies to any favorites that I neglect to include:
Birds, and especially owls (and extra especially great horned owls, barred owls, and screech owls)
Snakes (especially rattlesnakes)
Lizards (of all kinds)
Turtles (YAY WESTERN POND TURTLES)!
Spiders (especially argiopes and tarantulas)
Puffins (coould have been up with birds, but I decided they deserve a shout-out of their own)
Echinoderms in general
Dragons (hey! I believe)!
So, the overall message today is ANIMALS RULE! :)