Updated: Feb 9, 2022
A word that translates into water-dog doesn't quite do justice to the extremely interesting and powerful cryptid like the Ahuizotl. This cryptid hails from the time of the ancient Aztecs when they were near the height of their power in Central America. As with most stories of ancient times, the legend was passed orally for many generations.
Despite their small stature and relatively harmless appearance, these ancient Aztec cryptids are among the most dangerous and powerful in central American folklore, especially if you are a person who earns your living from the water. All aquatically oriented people, fishermen, sailors, and river guides of this region knew to avoid the three-handed dogs that kept commune with water gods.
The Aztecs believed the Ahuizotl were guardians of the natural world, sent by the gods to protect the vulnerable animals and ecosystems from man's ravages. It is said to look like a smallish dog with bristling fur. Instead of forepaws, its two front legs terminate in human-like hands. The third hand is found on its tail, which it prefers use it to do its killing.
The Ahuizotl is said to sink ships, drown swimmers and fisherman, and to abduct and dispose of tourists or invaders who are disrespectful of the waters these creatures protect. They are also believed to be direct messengers and servants to the Aztec water god Chalchiuhtlicue. So, all in all, they have far more influence and importance than the average watchdog, especially if the Aztec gods are anywhere near as fanatic about their dogs as the average human being.
If you are wandering the jungles, mountains, or deserts of lands that once belonged to the vast Aztec empire and you happen upon a dog with a hand on its tail, it would probably be an excellent time to nope-the-hell outta there.
On the whole, people have been anything but respectful to this planet's aquatic environments, and if I were a water spirit, I would have more than a few scores to settle with our savagely disrespectful race of monkeys.
Fun fact: Hernan Cortez wrote that one of his conquistadors was attacked by an Ahuizotl during their occupation of the Aztec Empire. I find this interesting, as Hernan was a deeply religious man and prone to some embellishment of his accomplishments, he was scathingly dismissive of any cultural and spiritual beliefs he deemed savage. A reference to the Aztec creature of myth could have simply been a misunderstanding. He might have believed Ahuizotl was the Aztec word for jaguar, piranha, crocodile, or python and believed his man was killed by one of these natural predators. Perhaps the man was simply drug down by a river current, and Cortez thought that was an Ahuizotl. We will likely never know the truth.
What do you think of the Ahuizotl? Do you have any more fun facts about it that I might have missed? What is your favorite cryptid from Southern or Central America? I would love to read more about the creatures that might lurk in the Amazon Jungle, the Patagonia Mountains, the Andes, or the Yucatan Peninsula. Chime off in the comments, check out Instagram and Twitter, join me for my livestream on Twitch next week, and of course, become a Patron if you want to read some horror/sci-fi shorts I've written!
Thanks for reading, everyone! See you next week.