Capybara is considered fish: Good news for those observing Lent

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Capybara created by AI

In the 1500s, the Catholic Church classified the capybara as a fish so its meat could be eaten on Fridays during Lent. If you’re not familiar with the capybara, it is the largest rodent in the world and certainly not a fish.

The capybara is actually classified as a rodent. And it has visually been described as a beaver without a tail. It has no gills, and it has no fins. In fact, some people have described it as a water pig, as they spend most of the time in the water eating plants and grasses.

The capybara does have the ability to stay underwater for up to five minutes to hide from predators. Also, it has webbed feet, which might be the closest thing to the status of a fish. But again, for the record, it’s a rodent and not as a species, a fish.

But back to the Catholic Church situation. Sometime between the 1500s and 1700s, Venezuelan clergymen asked the Vatican to make a special exception. When they found a capybara lived in water, had webbed feet, and even tasted like fish, they felt that it might be an interesting option. The Catholic Church wrote back and even agreed to make an exception and classify it, not as a giant aquatic rodent, but instead as a fish.

If you look at this photo, I’m sure there’s nothing about it that even looks fish-like. However, throughout Lenten history, there have been rather odd exceptions. In fact, if St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Friday during Lent, one is allowed to eat corned beef.

Would you ever eat capybara?


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