06/23/2010 05:56 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The Pet Potential of Pandora: Examining the Hexapods of James Cameron's Meticulous Universe

Animal Fair's Guide to Choosing the Perfect Pandoran Pet

Most people are familiar with the lush and robust world of James Cameron's record-breaking blockbuster, Avatar, especially considering it's astronomically high gross called for no small amount of repeat business. And while the meat of the story lies in the tall, slender, cat-like Na'vi and their interactions with human corporate interests, Animal Fair could not help but take notice of the deeply imaginative creatures that populate Pandora. The skies and jungles of this otherworldly moon are teeming with life, much of it lethal; James Cameron himself explained that the beasts of Pandora were meant to look as if they could swallow you whole. Pandora is a wild biology, wholly different from the comparatively tame Earth, where the animals are jacked into the mind of the world and no one can rest comfortably at the top of the food chain.

Five years and countless sketches went into designing a living, breathing ecosystem with evolutionary plausibility. Pandora's inhabitants tend to boast bright colors, six legs, and striking threat displays that prove just how formidable these beasts can be. With meticulous effort put into the creation of skin textures, color patterns, and plausible locomotive mechanics, Neville Page and the rest of the creature design team revolutionized the standard to which fantastical beasts will be held in the future. The creatures in Avatar are so realistic, in fact, that Animal Fair has decided, in celebration of the release of the Avatar DVD, to rank the host of hexapods based on their potential as house pets. Could A Direhorse win a blue ribbon, or a Thanator learn to use a litter box? Read on to find out just how the animals of Avatar would wreak havoc on your home.

Hammerhead Titanothere
Na'vi: Angtsìk Latin: Titanotheris Hammercephalis

The hulking Hammerhead Titanothere may be an herbivore, but that does not mean that it cannot dish out the pain. Equipped with a formidably destructive Hammerhead structure, this behemoth looks like a cross between a hammerhead shark and a mightily angry rhinoceros. When threatened, the Hammerhead Titanothere, or Angtsìk as the Na'vi call them, display a brightly colored fan of plumage. Don't get distracted by the display, because this means that the Titanothere is about to charge! As far as the creatures of Pandora go, the Hammerhead Titanothere would make a remarkably pitiful pet. The expenses incurred keeping one fed, content, and from repairing the inevitable property damage that would come with owning a Titanothere simply would not be worth the ambivalent tolerance of this grumpy hexapod.

Na'vi: Palulukan Latin: Bestiapanthera Ferox

The Thanator resembles an overgrown panther with a mean streak. A lithe, muscular frame set against gleaming fangs makes the Thanator a master predator. One of the few quadrupeds of Pandora, the Thanator more than makes up for it's missing set of limbs with it's dominant, territorial attitude and ferocious capability as a hunter. The Thanator only barely beats out the Titanothere due to its humility. Thanators are smart, loyal, and protective of their home. Although keeping a Thanator as a pet might result in the loss of a few digits, and that's if you're lucky, when the chips are thrown down, a Thanator will have your back and maybe even allow you to ride on his.

Na'vi: Nantang Latin: Caniferratus Costatus

Although comparatively small in the great scheme of Pandoran wildlife, the Viperwolf lives up to is name with its scrappy ferocity. Bioluminescent for pack identification, Viperwolves are pack animals which gives them bonus points in the pet department for being socialized animals. Viperwolves are also known to be deeply affectionate with their young; parenting a Viperwolf would simply be a matter of tapping into their pack mentality and asserting yourself as Alpha, which, as with many things on Pandora, is easier said than done. Equipped with opposable thumbs, the Viperwolf functions in three dimensions. What does this mean for a potential pet parent? No surface in your home will be safe from the acrobatic antics of your Viperwolf. While size and sociability work in the Viperwolves favor, maintenance and a history of resistance to domestication relegate the Viperwolf to the lower end of our list.

Great Leonopteryx
Na'vi: Toruk Latin: Gavilandora Maxima

Not just anyone can be a Toruk Makto, one of the few elite Na'vi who have tamed the ruler of Pandora's skies. However, if you have it in you to be the next great leader of the Na'vi, then the Great Leonopteryx makes for a compelling choice of companion. While its size and the risk involved in its domestication make for reasonably intimidating complications, the rewards may just outweigh the risks. Imagine having your own immensely beautiful, slightly terrifying, personal airbus. Taming a Great Leonopteryx would not only bestow major bragging rights, but it would also give you the power to unify an entire world's worth of blue, cat-like warriors. These are not terrible perks. However, keeping your Leonopteryx fed could get expensive, and finding adequate space for him to stretch his wings might prove hard for urban dwellers, effectively preventing the Great Leonopteryx from topping our list in the same manner by which he tops Pandora's food chain.

Na'vi: Pa'li Latin: Equidirus Hoplites

Though a bit more stubborn than their distant earth bound cousins, the Direhorse functions and behaves much like a high-strung equine back here on the home planet. This means that the usual concerns that come with owning a horse would accompany adopting a Direhorse with a couple of the requisite Pandoran twists. First, the Direhorse dines exclusively on nectar, which, here on earth, would be sticky, rare, and assuredly expensive. Having one of the best temperaments of any of the creatures of Pandora, the Direhorse is practically a shoe in for the best pet on the lush moon of the planet Polyphemus; the only thing holding it back is the sheer awesomeness of our list's number one.

Mountain Banshee
Na'vi: Ikran Latin: Pterodactylus Giganteus

How could the elegant, loyal, and just a touch scary Mountain Banshee not top our list? These fish-faced denizens of the Hallelujah Mountains are inextricably tied to Na'vi culture and tradition. A young warrior is tasked with taming an Ikran before they can truly be considered an adult. Although the Banshee's first instinct is to try to kill its future companion, the risk is certainly worth the reward. Who wouldn't want to fly in neurologically synchronized harmony with a four-winged alien dragon? Mountain Banshees are simply too cool to go without praise. Yes, getting to Pandora, climbing to the peak of a floating mountain suspended in gravitational flux, conquering a pissed off dragon, and somehow overcoming the biological limits of humanity may be a challenge, but the second the bond was established would be worth all the effort.

Now you know where animal fair stands concerning the eligibility of Pandoran wildlife to become the latest coveted companion since lassie. Sure, these creatures can't fit in a hand bag, aren't soft or cuddly, and are more likely to kill than kiss you, but if James Cameron can dream up the meticulous world of Avatar, then we reserve the right to dream of bonding with a Mountain Banshee of out very own! So go out and grab a copy of Avatar on DVD so you can choose which of Pandora's inhabitants you'd want curled up at the foot of your bed!

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