OK, here's the Capybara update. As reported in Scientific American, October, 1994: Lots of capybara meat is/was eaten by Colombians and Venezuelans who appealed to the Vatican during the 16th century in order to be allowed to eat capybaras during Lent. The pope back then declared the capybara to be a fish; according to a 1991 survey, approximately 400 tons of capybara are eaten each year. Since a capybara weighs about 100 lbs, if one capybara yields 25 lbs of edible stuff, that's about 32,000 capybaras per year down the collective hatch.
In addition to its importance as food source, the capybara has been the object of some interest as a donor for organ transplants into humans (Jan and March 1994 Lancet). As the only rodent of anywhere near human proportions (Rush Limbaugh is disqualified because of his superhuman proportions), the capybara could provide an alternative source of organs. Since the only xenograft donors currently in wide use are pigs (for heart valves), this raises another interesting religio/biological conundrum. Is it kosher to receive a pig valve, and if not, would an organ from a biological rodent that is classified as a fish by the Catholics be any more acceptable?
It seems to me a related moral dilemma applies to the rumored problem of wild llamas in the Andes being a major reservoir of veneral disease such as syphilis. Would the same religious/moral proscriptions against sex with ruminants apply to sex with a fish?
So many questions, so little time to write meaninful grant proposals...