Consider the Makara (a sea animal that closest resembles a crocodile). The crocodile is not a particularly beautiful species– unless you happen to be a crocodile Mom looking at her baby. It isn’t a slam-dunk like the peacock or parrot, which most everyone would agree are beautiful. Yet, it is linked to love, fertility, virility, strength and fierceness.
In his book Yaksas, Ananda Coomaraswamy describes the makara as a sea monster, a “leviathan” moving not just through our ancient seas but also the cosmic ocean that is the night sky. The makara rashi (Capricorn) is linked to this.
Over time, it evolved into a composite phantasmagorical animal. Just mix and match an elephant’s trunk, cow’s ear, fish eyes, spiny tail of a crocodile, the snout and teeth of an alligator, panther’s legs, boar’s body, and even the bushy tail of a peacock.