One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A small semiaquatic European mammal related to the mole, with a long tubular muzzle and webbed toes.
Family Talpidae: the Russian desman (Desmana moschata) and the Pyrenean desman (Galemys pyrenaicus)
- ‘The family Talpidae consists of moles and desmans; currently, its approximately 42 species are grouped into 17 genera.’
- ‘Moles are from the family Talpidae which includes moles, desmans, and shrew-moles.’
- ‘Primarily an insectivore, the desman's diet consists of aquatic insects and their larvae, along with snails and small, slow-moving fish, which are attracted to its trenches by the musk smell and aerated water it leaves in its wake.’
- ‘Trunk and limb proportions of early middle Eocene Rodhocetus are most similar to those of the living, highly aquatic, foot-powered desmans.’
- ‘Reserves were created to save critical habitat for endangered species such as the Siberian tiger, saiga antelope, Russian desman and black stork.’
Late 18th century: via French and German from Swedish desman-råtta ‘muskrat’, from desman ‘musk’.
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