The timid viscacha (Lagostomus trichodactylus), living in colonies, often with the burrowing owl, and digging deep under ground like the American prairie dog, was almost the only quadruped to be seen upon these immense open plains.
On the arid plateaus of the north-west, the guanaco and vicuna are still to be found, though less frequently, together with a smaller species of viscacha (Lagidium cuvieri).
(See also VISCACHA).
There are deer, called taruco (Cervus antisensis); the viscacha, a large rodent; a species of fox called atoc; and the puma (Felts concolor) and ucumari or black bear with a white muzzle, when driven by hunger, wander into the loftier regions.
VISCACHA, or BISCACHA, a large South American burrowing rodent mammal belonging to the family Chinchillidae and commonly known as Lagostomus trichodactylus, although some writers prefer the name Viscacia.
With the cheek-teeth formed of a number of parallel plates in the manner characteristic of the family, the viscacha is distinguished from the other members of that group by having only three hind toes; while it is also the heaviest-built and largest member of the group, with smaller ears than the rest.
In the squirrels and porcupines the tibia and fibula are distinct, but in rats and hares they are united, often high up. The hind foot is more variable than the front one, the digits varying in number from five, as in squirrels and rats, to four, as in hares, or even three, as in the capybara, viscacha and agouti.
Special mention may be made of Megamys, from the caves of Brazil, which, while apparently allied to the living viscacha, attained dimensions approximating to those of a hippopotamus.
In Chinchilla the fore-feet have five and the hind four digits, the tail is long and bushy, and the auditory bullae are enormous, appearing on the top of the skull; Lagidium has four digits in both foreand hind-feet, and Lagostomus three only in the hindfeet, while the auditory bullae are much smaller (see Chinchilla and Viscacha).
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