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Of otters and men

I've long been interested in mammals, mostly carnivores, and particularly mustelids (otters, badgers, martens, stoats, etc). I used to be wildly interested in foxes, learning all the different species, their latin names, some of their behaviours and locales, until around... ten? twelve? when suddenly my enthusiasm for all things vulpine was removed - as if someone had flipped a switch and replaced it with an equal focus on otters and eventually other weasels.

I was also an avid reader of science fiction and fiction fantasy through my teens and early twenties (I still enjoy it now and again), fascinated by the ideas of other intelligences whether space aliens or other worlds where multiple species live alongside each other. One strand of interest that particularly arose for me was the question of how we would be, had we been based on some species other than the apes with which we share most of our DNA - raccoons, for instance, (Architect of Sleep by Steven Boyett) or had there been multiple sapient species around (Dreamrider by Sandra Meisel).

Most folks have a favourite species, and it seems inevitable that their choice is influenced by their perception of that species' behaviour - whether from experiencing how those animals behave in real life, or from works like AEsop's fables identifying the fox as sly, the crow as clever, the ant as industrious. I identified with otters for a long time - I think perhaps seeing them as playful but quite stubborn (from reading Gavin Maxwell's books) and feeling myself to be that way. Now I lean more towards badgers - still stubborn, but somewhat more gregarious.

Unfortunately for me and for werewolf fans, I gather that DNA comparison classifies apes much closer to rabbits than all of the carnivores, so there's little likelihood of being bitten by a radioactive wolverine turning anyone into anything other than a patient at the local hospital, and less chance of some freak gamma ray burst from the moon having life-enhancing effects.

I enjoy cartoons (who doesn't) and I'm likely to read a new comic strip which involves talking animals than to one just involving humans. I particularly like ones that play with the boundary of sentience and animal behaviour (like Buckles and Freefall, and to an extent, The Grizzwells). My list includes The Grizzwells, Get Fuzzy, Citizen Dog, Safe Havens, Over the Hedge, Kevin and Kell, and of course, Buckles, and Calvin and Hobbes. Other stories which have anthropomorphic animals which in are also fun, although some are just humans in funny animal costumes. That couldn't be said of Flo in Freefall. I read The Class Menagerie less frequently than I could, but I read Ozy and Millie when it comes out. The most comprehensive link I can give you is http://www.belfry.com, which lists all the above and more, although there's some odd stuff listed too.

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This page last changed Tue Jun 5 13:39:32 2012