|Artist||M. C. Escher|
|Dimensions||17 cm × 23.2 cm (6.7 in × 9.1 in)|
This is the only work by Escher consisting largely of text. The text, which is written in Dutch, describes an imaginary species called Pedalternorotandomovens centroculatus articulosus, also known as “wentelteefje” or “rolpens”. He says this creature came into existence because of the absence in nature of wheel shaped, living creatures with the ability to roll themselves forward.
The creature is elongated and armored with several keratinized joints. It has six legs, each with what appears to be a human foot. It has a disc-shaped head with a parrot-like beak and eyes on stalks on either side.
It can either crawl over a variety of terrain with its six legs or press its beak to the ground and roll into a wheel shape. It can then roll, gaining acceleration by pushing with its legs. On slopes it can tuck its legs in and roll freely. This rolling can end in one of two ways; by abruptly unrolling in motion, which leaves the creature belly-up, or by braking to a stop with its legs and slowly unrolling backwards.
The word wentelteefje is Dutch for French toast, "wentel" meaning "to turn over". Rolpens is a dish made with chopped meat wrapped in a roll and then fried or baked. "Een pens" means "belly", often used in the phrase beer-belly.
There is a diagonal gap through the text containing an illustration showing the step by step process of the creature rolling into a wheel. This creature appears in two more prints completed later the same month, House of Stairs and House of Stairs II.
The translation of the surrounding text is as follows:
The Pedalternorotandomovens Centroculatus Articulosus (curl-up) came into existence (spontaneous generation), because of the absence, in nature, of wheel shaped, living creatures with the ability to roll themselves forward. The accompanying 'beastie' depiction, referred to as 'revolving bitch' or 'roll paunch' in laymen's terms, subsequently anticipates the need with sensitivity. Biological details are still few: is it a mammal, a reptile, or an insect? It has a long, drawn-out, horned, sectioned body and three sets of legs; the ends of which look like the human foot. In the middle of the fat, round head, that is provided with a strong, bent parrots beak; they have bulb-shaped eyes, which, placed on posts, protrude far out from both sides of the head. In the stretched out position, the animal can, slow and cautiously, with the use of his six legs, move forward over a variety of terrains (it can potentially climb or descend steep stairs, plow through bushes, or scramble over boulders). However, when it must cover a great distance, and has a relatively flat path to his disposal, he pushes his head to the ground and rolls himself up with lightning speed, at which time he pushes himself off with his legs- for as much as they can still touch the ground. In the rolled up state it exhibits the form of a discus, of which the eye posts are the central axle. By pushing off alternately with one of his three pairs of legs, he can achieve great speeds. It is also sometimes desirable during the rolling (i.e. The descent of an incline, or coasting to a finish) to hold up the legs and 'freewheel' forward. Whenever it wants, it can return again to the walking position in two ways: first abruptly, by suddenly extending his body, but then it's lying on his back with his legs in the air, and second through gradual deceleration (braking with his feet) and slowly unrolling backwards in standing position.