Ayotochtli

A clue in the 7 Oct 2022 New York Times crossword, "Animal that the Aztecs called ayotochtli, or "turtle-rabbit", leads to the 2015-2021 lovely labor-of-love blog "A Book of Creatures", where the ayotochtli entry reveals:

Ayotochtli, "tortoise-rabbit", is Nahuatl for armadillo. Two somewhat mangled forms of the word appears in Topsell's work.

Topsell attributes the description of the Aiochtochth or Aiotochth (also known in Spanish as Armato and Contexto) to Cardanus. It is found in Mexico, near the Alvaradus River. An aiotochth is no bigger than a cat and has the snout of a mallard, the feet of a hedgehog, and a very long neck. It is covered by a segmented, lobster-like shell resembling the trappings of a horse. It protects itself with that shell such that neither its head nor neck are clearly visible, with only the ears sticking out. Some of these creatures were brought back to London gardens where they were put to use destroying worms.

The entry for the aiochtochth immediately follows that of the Tatus or Armadillo, and Topsell claims they are comparable.

... where "Topsell" refers to the 1658 book The History of Four-footed Beasts. Will wonders of Nature (and our words for them) never cease?!

(cf "The Beer That Made Armadillos Famous" subtitled "The secret of premium beers is that they all taste pretty much the same. What makes people buy them is image–and Lone Star entered the seventies desperately needing a new one." (Texas Monthly, Feb 1982), ...) - ^z - 2022-10-09