In 1780 Francisco Saverio Clavigero, a Jesuit priest who lived in Mexico published Storia Antica de Messico featuring an itcuintlipotzotli from the Tarascan area of Michoacan. The picture accompanying Clavigero’s text showed a grotesque animal resembling a terrier-sized dog, with a short tail, small wolf-like head, virtually non-existent neck, strange bulbous nose, almost hairless skin and, most extraordinary of all, a pronounced hump extending from shoulders to haunches.

Some researchers refuse to believe that this canine Quasimodo was a dog, and suggest instead that it might have been some form of rodent akin to the guinea pig. Alas we will never know, as the animal is now extinct. The last report of an itcuintilpotzotli appears to be in Madam Calderon de la Barca’s Life in Mexico, published in 1843. She relates seeing a dead specimen of the extinct beast at an inn in the valley of Guajimalco, just over 32 kilometers north-west of Mexico City. It was reared by the innkeepers, but became so fierce that they killed it. Thus vanished into obscurity the creature that may well be the world’s ugliest mystery beast.


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