A list from Jonathan Meiburg of Shearwater! You can check out all our Best of 2015 lists here.
15 charismatic and/or really impressive non-humans I met in 2015:
1. Goliath Bird-Eating Spider – the world’s largest; my insane scientist friend Sean McCann let it crawl on his head while I took a picture). Guyana.
2. Secretary Bird – captive birds “Moneypenny” and “Dr. No,”. Like living gryphons; totally magical birds with long, slender legs, huge wings, red faces, yellow beaks, and a weird crest of long black quills they can raise or lower depending on their mood. In the wild, they march fearlessly across the African savannah and hunt poisonous snakes. The Hawk Conservancy, Andover UK.
3. Rose-collared Parakeets - three wild birds, flying over Karl Marx’s grave. London, UK.
4. Boat-Billed Heron – nocturnal, pale, with huge eyes; its call is like a slow, evil cackle. Guyana.
5. Vampire Fish (aka Paiara) – Its terrifying face haunts my dreams. Years ago, one bit a friend of mine in the testicles. Yow! Guyana.
6. Electric Eel – long, dark, and ghostlike in the water, with tiny eyes; occasionally you’d see its mouth above the surface as it came up to gulp air. You had to watch out or it’d shock you while you were washing dishes in the river. Guyana.
7. Arapaima (aka Pirarucu) – world’s largest scalefish. Like 300 lbs, 12 feet long. They’re yellow and green with red highlights and a long, flat head, unreal-looking as a dinosaur. They breathe air. Guyana.
8. Giant Armadillo – shone a flashlight into its huge burrows, and held one of its 6″-long front claws, in Brazil.
9. Pink River Dolphin (aka Boto) – they can turn their heads on their necks, which is super-freaky. Brazil.
10. Red-Throated Caracara – these striking, black and white birds with red throats and red eyes hang out in groups and like to fly around the forest dancing and screaming. They eat wasps’ nests. Brazil.
11. Jaguar – we surprised each other in the forest and both slowly backed away. Quite a moment. Brazil.
12. Puma – watching me calmly from a riverbank, looking secure in the knowledge it could fuck me up. Guyana.
13. Tapir – swimming across a river, its flanks scarred by the claws of a big cat, this strange mammal looked like a donkey-pig with a little trunk, which it kept above the water like a snorkel. Surprisingly adorable, like a real-life Eeyore. Guyana.
14. Three-toed Sloth – high in a tree in the early morning sun, this little guy looked as happy and relaxed as you could possibly imagine. Hard to believe he was related to armadillos and anteaters. Guyana.
15. Floss the border collie – one of the the most beautiful, charming, and intelligent dogs I’ve ever met. She often carries around a little stuffed sheep, and loves playing fetch in the dark. Cornwall, UK.