The Gargouille—not to be confused with gargoyle—-was a water-spouting dragon that appeared in the Seine River in France. It terrorized boats and flooded the land. In the legend, Saint Romain, the archbishop of Rouen, lured the monster to shore using a convict, and then made a cross with his fingers to tame the monster. He then led it into town where it was slaughtered. Some accounts said it was burned.
In 1635, scientist and artist Juan Eusebio Nieremberg published this piece in Historia Naturae, which focuses largely on the natural history of Mexico. Historia Naturae was compiled primarily from research conducted in New Spain in the 1570s by the Spanish physician naturalist Francisco Hernández (1515–1587). It includes six folio text volumes containing over three thousand plants, animals, and minerals and ten folio volumes of paintings by Mexican artists illustrating the plants and animals described in the text.
“Morss Piscis” means “Marine Fish” and gives no clue to the animal’s identity. It is believed that this actually once an otter, and the drawing was made of the dessicated pelt of the unfortunate animal.