One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A large nocturnal South American rodent that has a reddish-brown coat patterned with rows of white spots and is hunted for its meat.
Genus Cuniculus, family Dasyproctidae: two species
- ‘Eight other species, including pacas, pacaranas, spiny rats and porcupines, also steal Brazil nuts stored by agoutis.’
- ‘Agoutis are smaller than their relatives the piglike pacas and larger than squirrels, which they resemble.’
- ‘It is an unfortunate and potentially confusing accident of taxonomy that agoutis do not belong to the family Agoutidae, which instead contains their relatives, the pacas.’
- ‘We saw squirrel monkeys, capuchins, spider monkeys, peccaries, kinkajous, coatis, howler monkeys, tayras - a large mustelid that Martyn thought was a tree otter - pacas, night monkeys, giant anteaters and a tapir.’
- ‘What she finds stuffed into its pens and cages, or tethered nearby, is a fair representation of Nicaragua's jungle wildlife: scores of parrots and parakeets, pacas, an ocelot cub, deer yearlings, a spider monkey.’
Mid 17th century: via Spanish and Portuguese from Tupi.
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