ago̕uty. An animal of the Antilles, of the bigness of a rabbit, with bright red hair and a little tail without hair. He has but two teeth in each jaw, holds his meat in his forepaws like a squirrel, and has a very remarkable cry. When he is angry, his hair stands on end, and he strikes the earth with his hindfeet, and, when chased, he flies to a hollow tree, whence he is expelled by smoke. Trevoux.
Note: Today’s natural history lesson from Dr Samuel Johnson's Dictionary can be supplemented by your own research. But for anyone wholly unfamiliar with the "agouty" (or agouti, as he’s more commonly known), here are several -- alive, rapidly springing, loving, taking care of business under sunny southern skies.
Contrast this with the horrible northern demise of the world's oldest living creature (Science Nordic article link), the 507 year old sea quahog murdered by climate change researchers from Bangor University, Wales. Uncovered in Iceland's seabeds, these so-called scientists could not leave this stately citizen to clam-languor in well-earned sea-peace.
Clam age is precisely calculated by counting shell striations. These increase annually in a manner similar to tree rings. Unfortunately, (both for the mollusk and the immortal souls of the vicious Welsh researchers), to ascertain the groove count, you need to pry open the shell and kill the clam. Raw visual knowledge of the sea creature's great age and venerable historical status prompted neither respect nor charity, only blood-lust. Originally supposed to be a mere 405 years old, we now know that Ming (named -- weirdly -- post-mortem -- for the Chinese dynasty of his birth era) was in fact 102 years older when he violently passed.
The irony of Ming’s naming stuns me. The Chinese venerate old age and continue to follow ancient traditions of filial piety. Kathleen Sebelius and the murdering belt-notchers from Bangor University would not understand.
Agouty definition from: Samuel Johnson, A Dictionary of the English Language, 1755.
Painting: Anonymous, A wall scroll painting, possibly depicting the 4th-century poet Tao Yuanming, Song Dynasty, 11th century, India ink and colors on silk.
Henry Cow: Living In The Heart Of The Beast (Link).