Some folks are wise and some are otherwise. -Tobias Smollett
Question #10512 posted on 11/22/2004 4:08 a.m.

Dear 100 Hour Board,

The scientific name of the capybara is ~hydrochaeris hydrochaeris~, which should be italicized, but won't be, because you people won't let me. Does this mean that there is only one species in the genus, does it mean that it was the first species discovered in / categorized into the genus, does it mean that this species is the quintessence of the genus, or does it mean something else entirely?

I'd suspect the very first, but the caracal (African lynx) is the ~caracal caracal~, and I know there are other types of lynxes, which are presumably in the same family.

Here's to the National Zoo, and to the pygmie hippopotami thereof.

-A. A. Melyngoch

A: Dear A. A. Melyngoch,
Ahh, the capybara. The biggest ROUS in the world. Well, you're right. It's your first hypothesis. In fact, the capybara is not only the sole member of its genus; it's also the sole member of its family (Hydrochaeridae). The caracal is also the only member of its genus. The presumption that other lynxes are in the same (I'm guessing you meant) genus is incorrect. The other lynxes (The Canada lynx, the Spanish lynx, the Eurasian lynx, and the bobcat) are in the genus Lynx. They are all in the family Felidae (cats) and the subfamily Felinae (small cats). I'm always glad to field questions about animals. Thanks!