Voynich f80v animal: an Armadillo?


The animal to the left appears on the left side of f80v. I had previously shown and listed it as an unidentified animal, but back in May of 2008 I began to speculate that it may be an armadillo. The implications of this are great, because if it is meant to be an armadillo, it gives an "earliest dating" of the Voynich the year 1492. Of course this date then, only if the armadillo was drawn on one of Columbus' ships.

But the earliest description I have found dates from 1526, and the earliest illustration, 1551.  Therefore, if this is an armadillo, the Voynich was probably created post 1526, and not pre-1450, as most have claimed.

Note on the illustration these points:
1) Scales... and it is a four legged creature
2) Pointed ears
3) The animal is partially curled inward
4) Long pointed snout
5) The postion of the eye between snout and ears


Compare this Nine Banded Florida armadillo to f80v. I think it is arguably very close in many individual features, such as:

1) Scales
2) Pointed ears
3) We know it can curl
4) Long pointed snout
5) Similar positioning of the eye to snout and ear.

Image courtesy of: http://www.birdphotos.com
I resized and mirrored the image for alignment. Found on Wikipedia commons.




Three Banded Armadillo, from this site. The three banded armadillo looks a bit more like the f80v animal in some ways. This is the only armadillo that can completely roll up in a ball. Even though f80v is not rolled, and only a bit curled, it may be that the artist was intrigued by the rolling ability... as we all are... and was suggesting it in the one picture. For another, the "scales" are proportionately larger, much as the scales on f80v are. The head and snout are more like the nine band version, however. But if a three banded animal was part of the influence to f80v, then this is important, because, "The Three Banded Armadillo makes its home in Bolivia, central Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina."



And here is the Giant Armadillo (Tatou), which can get up to 4 and a half feet long, and weigh up to 130 pounds. Thank you , John, for bringing this to my attention. Photo credit, NORBERTO DUARTE/AFP/Getty Images (reversed)

This armadillo has a lesser, or even absent, distinction between the center "bands" and the fore and aft scales. They are more uniform in scaling than the three or nine band armadillo, which is key to this observation, as the Voynich f80v animal is more uniform. The Pangolin has also been mentioned as a possible candidate, which, if correct, would keep the VMs animal in the Old World. It is not as close a match, in my opinion, to the f80v animal. Also suggested were wolves and dragons.


Armadillo engraving from a 1592 map of the New World.

Note that the ears are even pointier than on the nine-banded armadillo photo above, and more like the Voynich illustration.

From Library and Archives Canada, NMC 8142

This handsome gentleman is from the 1593 book Aromatum, et Simplicium Aliquot Medicamentorum Apud Indos Nascentium.

I take that to mean it is a book of plants and animals of the New World, along with their medical uses.

The same engraving is in the 1579 book, Simplicium medicamentorum ex Nouo Orbe delatorum, quorum in medicina

Both by Nicolás Bautista Monardes


Armadillo from a 1633 book.
This armadillo is from Conrad Gessner's 1551 Historiae Animalium.

It has been suggested to me that the f80v animal looks too much like an armadillo to be one. This because illustrations of things long ago were often innaccurate, so therefore if it looks much like an armadillo it must be a coincidence. But then, what of the very good illustration to the left? It is much better an illustration of an armadillo than the f80v animal would be, if one. But the animal to the left is meant to be one, we know for sure, which counters the "too accurate" argument for an f80v armadillo identification.

I believe I've found the earliest description available to Europeans. It is from Natural History of the West Indies (1526), by Gonzalo Fernandez de Oviedo y Valdes (1478-1557). This was published two years before Cortes gave Charles V an armadillo. I found it on page 23 of "Writers Anthologized in Reading the Roots": The book says of Oviedo's work, "It was so popular in its day that many Europeans (including, according to some scholars, Sir Walter Raleigh) recieved their first glimpses of the marvelous new land and its strange creatures through Oviedo's eyes". Oviedo's description:

Armadillo

The armadillo is a very strange animal to the Christians, and quite different from any animal in Spain or anywhere else. This animal is a quadruped. Its whole body and tail are covered with skin. Its hide is like the skin of a lizard, between white and gray, but somewhat more white. In appearance it is exactly like an armored horse, with its caparison and armor completely covering its body. From under the armor the tail comes out, and in thier proper place the legs, and the neck and the ears in their place. In short, it is exactly like a warhorse with armor. This animal is about the size of a asmall dog, or common cur dog, and is not vicious, but rather timid. The make their homes in mounds of earth, and by digging with their paws they hollow out their caves and burrows, somewhat like those made by rabbits. They are excellent food and are captured in nets, and some are killed by cross-bowmen. Most often these animals are taken when the fields are burned over in preparation for planting or to renew the grass for cows and cattle.

I have eaten of them several times, and the flavor is better than that of kid. It is healthful food. I cannot help suspecting that this animal was known by those who first put horses in full trappings, for from the appearance of these animals they could have learned the form of the trappings for the armored horse...


I am looking for a copy with illustrations, to see if one of an armadillo is included.