Martin and Oliver Webb Fine Stone Miniatures. Museum quality handmade miniatures of stone carvings for the collector and connoisseur.
No. 12 A Medieval Zoo
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Part Two : Martin and Oliver's dictionary of ancient and mythical entities, beasts, creatures and monsters - benign and otherwise!

A

Akabo Another name for the weird and wonderful Corocotta, see below.

Alazbo Guess what? Yet another name for the dear little Corocotta. See a bit further below again.

Alphyn An heraldic monster bearing a passing similarity to an heraldic tyger, but with eagle-like front feet.

Amphiptere A winged but leg-less member of the Dragon family which is said to guard Frankincense trees.

Amphisbaena This was a snake having, rather confusingly, a head at each end of its body. It allegedly got around by using the singular method of joining the two heads to form a circle, then rolling along like a wheel. As well as being beneficial to pregnant women and being helpful in the alleviation of rheumatism, amphisbaena was probably quite handy as an impromptu hula hoop.

Amphivia A kind of giant fish which walked around on the land.

Angel Winged human-like messengers from heaven who feature prominently in Christian, Jewish, and Islamic faiths.

Antelop An antelope-like creature with long serrated horns said to be sharp enough to fell trees and cut out evil from man's soul. The head is often stylised and looks less lifelike than the creatures body. It has associations with English Royalty, being used a royal badge by Henrys IV and V.

Ape It was believed in medieval times that five seperate kinds of ape existed. Callitrix had a pointed, bearded face and a wide tail, Cercopithecum just a tail,  Cynocephalus was dog-faced and had a long tail, Satyrus was handsome and Sphinx was rough-haired and tame. Legend has it that the female ape produced twins, one of which it loved, the other it hated, but when hunted the mother ape accidentally dropped the favoured twin and was left with just the hated one, which had been left clinging to her back.

Aspidochelone A monstrous sea monster so large that sailors mistook its back for an island and landed there, however when they lit a fire upon it the Aspidochelone, not unreasonably, dived beneath the waves drowning everyone. Aspidochelone was usually depicted eating  smaller fish – Amphivia, perhaps. No wonder it took to dry land.

B

Basilisk A fearsome looking and desperately venomous creature of reptilian/bird form; the body of a dragon with a cock's head (though how this is known is uncertain since the very sight of the creature was fatal, so presumably all witnesses to the creature's appearance must have died before recording the details!). It is also notable for having an extra dragon's head placed handily at the end of its tail, a feature which distinguishes it from the similar, but equally hard to domesticate, cockatrice. Hardly surprisingly, in Christian art the Basilisk represents sin and the spirit of evil.

Banacon An awesome creature having the body and mane of a horse but the head of a bull, which possessed the remarkable and truly appalling ability to expel fiery emission from its backside sufficient to incinerate everything several acres behind it.

Banshee A phantom woman whose wailing and shrieking preceded a bereavement. Particularly common in Celtic myths.

Barometz A weird sort of lamb which grew, like a fruit, hanging from the branches of a tree by its tail.

Behemoth A very large hippo-like creature able to consume a whole river in a single gulp. The Behemoth and the equally monstrous Leviathan are eventually due to fight to their mutual destruction – an act heralding the end of time. It is possible that the creature results from a corrupted report of an elephant.

Bucentaur Another variation on the centaur theme; having the head and torso of a man on an ox's body and legs.

Bicapitate A double headed creature. Examples include the Imperial Eagle and Zaphod Beeblebrox of the Hitch Hikers' Guide To The Galaxy, but probably not a train being pulled by two locomotives . . . .

Bicorporate A beast which has two bodies joined, somewhat inconveniently one would imagine, by a single head.

Bigorne (or Bicorne) A monstrous figure who devoured husbands who were "under the thumb" of their wives!

C

Caladrius or Charadrius A white bird which could predict if a sick person would recover or not. Possibly symbolising Christ.

Calopus A creature possessed of sharp, serrated horns, the snout of a boar, beard of a goat, and the tail and teeth of a lion. Its front feet have cloven hoofs and its back feet are like dragon's feet. It appears in British heraldry and church carvings.

Catoblepas An ungainly maned, bull-like creature whose head is disproportionately large to its body. It also seems inexplicably unable to look anywhere other than downwards. The Greek word Catoblepas means "that which looks downward". The Catoblepas lived on poisonous plants and if alarmed, the creature would emit a blast of highly toxic bad breath.

Centaur A creature which is fundamentally the grafting of a man, minus his legs, onto a horse's body, minus its neck and head. This slightly strange arrangement resulted in a six limbed creature with, presumably, two sets of internal organs and digestive systems, not to mention a very long spinal column contorted through 90 degrees. Sometimes referred to as a Sagittary (particularly when carrying a bow) the centaur's origins are in Greek mythology. The most famous example was Cheiron, who was the tutor of many Greek heroes, including Jason and Achilles. Cheiron was evidently very intelligent and cultured, reputedly having been very knowledgeable on subjects like medicine and music and archery. He is credited with teaching mankind to use medicinal herbs. Cheiron sacrificed his immortality for Prometheus and was subsequently immortalised in the constellation of stars known as Sagittarius. However, centaurs also have a reputation for bad behaviour, particularly when drunk and their reputation varies between a scholarly guide, a symbol of virility or perpetrator of violence. The fierce side of their nature made the centaur a favoured emblem amongst those who showed military prowess (particularly with the bow), which is why they are frequently seen in heraldry. The centaur is also said to represent the figure of Christ, mounted on the horse of vengeance, slaying evil or harrowing Hell.

Centycore A truly bizarre composite creature having horse's hooves, lion's legs, elephant's ears, a bear's muzzle, a monstrous mouth, and a ten-point antler growing from its forehead. To top it all it spoke with the voice of a man and showed no mercy. Probably best avoided.

Cerberus A three-headed dog with a serpentine or dragon's tail. Some accounts describe the brute as having fifty heads and/or a mane of snakes. Cerberus, progeny of Echidna and Typhon, guarded the underworld, the place in ancient Greek belief where people went after death. His role there was to prevent any souls returning to the land of the living.

Chichevache Bigorne's equally unlovable mate. Chichevache, however, dined upon obedient wives and starved to death. Goodness knows what that says about the society of the time!

Chimera According to Greek mythology the chimera was a fire breathing, female, three headed monster, having heads of goat, lion, and dragon or serpent. Legend has it that the chimera was killed by Bellerophon with the help of Pegasus and the symbol of Bellerophon triumphing over the chimera was used in Roman times as a secret symbol of Christianity. It is also likely that this formed the basis for the legend of St. George slaying the dragon. The term Chimera is still used as a generic name for a monster made up of combined animals. The English sports car maker TVR produced a car called the Chimera - inferring a fire breathing nature, rather than the car being composed of bits of other cars, one would imagine!

Chinese Dragons Not really all that relevant here, but I'll include a paragraph on them, since the reptilian Dragon family is so large and international. The Chinese Dragon symbolises strength and power and is considered to be very benign. They can be categorised as follows: Celestial, five clawed guardians of the houses of the gods. Divine, controlled the weather. Terrestrial (river dragons) controlled the rivers. Subterranean, custodians of treasure. The most fierce dragons were yellow ones, with red and black coming close behind.

Cockatrice Supposedly hatched from an egg laid by a cockerel and incubated by a (cold blooded!) snake or toad. The cockatrice had the head of a cockerel and a barbed or forked serpentine tongue and a reptilian body akin to a wyvern - not dissimilar to a basilisk, apparently. It seems that in the fifteenth century a cockerel suspected of being a cockatrice was actually put on trial in Basle (!), and found guilty(!!!). One's faith in their justice system jostles with that of their prowess in zoological identification.

Corocotta The result of cross breeding a hyena with a lioness. This odd badger headed, donkey sized animal whose physique was a combination of stag and lion was able to mimic the voices of men. Its gaze was permanently fixed - probably as a result of possessing, rather awkwardly one would imagine, a rigid spine prohibiting any chance of the thing looking over its shoulder. It had cloven hoofs and in place of teeth, the creature also featured one single bone-like tooth extending right round it's jaw. Also called variously: Akabo, Alazbo, Corocotta, Crocuta, Leucrocuta, Leucrota, Rosomacha and Zabo.

Crocodile, or Cocodrillus. Anyone unfortunate met this thing you would definitely not mistake it for its namesake. One 12th century bestiary shows a bull-sized creature standing on cockerel's legs and feet, with a serrated back, long pointy ears and teeth like dinner knives. The written account credits it with being an awesome thirty feet in length. Said to represent hypocrisy and avarice.

Crocuta Yes, it's yet another name for Corocotta.

D

Devil The embodiment of evil and holder of the title deeds to Hell. Depicted in various forms of demonic looking characters – often fitted with an enviable set of teeth, alternatively, as an upside down angel.

Dragon The term "dragon" has become pretty well the generic name for the various forms of reptilian, carnivorous creature which possess various combinations of legs, bat-like wings, claws of an eagle, armoured serpentine scales and the handy ability to breathe fire. In mythology and legends the poor old dragon is pretty universally cast as a fearsome baddie, yet in heraldry dragons seem to have acquired a more respectable and noble role in symbolising a strong and fearless man eager for battle. King Arthur's father, Uther Pendragon is supposed to have carried the dragon as his emblem and on the Bayeux tapestry King Harold is depicted being slain under his dragon banner at the Battle of Hastings. Probably one of the best known heraldic uses of the dragon today is on the Welsh national flag.

E

Eagle The eagle is the symbol of St. John the Evangelist who wrote the last of the four Gospels.

Elf Human-like beings, usually small in stature, associated with woodland, waterfalls and mountains. They originate possibly in Norse or Teutonic folklore, though versions of Elves are pretty well universal. They are significantly either very beautiful, or very ugly and are thus differentiated as benign or malevolent. Oberon, King of the Elves, and his wife Titania feature in medieval literature, notably William Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream".

Enfield Basically a wolf with a fox's head and eagles legs at the front end.

F

Fairy Small folk with wings like those of a dragonfly. Usually benign and benevolent, fairies are supposed to bestow gifts such as beauty and kindness in small children, though sometimes they get mixed up in other human affairs with varying degrees of success and annoyance! Fairies are supposedly invisible to most adult people.

G

Gansas A swan having one webbed foot and one talon. Given this apparent impediment in locomotion, it comes as something of a surprise to hear that they were supposed to annually migrate to the moon, though presumably it didn't walk the whole way there.

Gnome Small misshapen, subterranean dwarf-like creatures who hoard treasure. Gnomes apparently were quite unable to stand the rays of the sun, so spent their lives beneath the ground where it seems they are as able to move through the earth as a man is through the air. A gnome exposed to the sun turned immediately into stone - or perhaps, judging by many modern gardens, concrete. Gnomes as garden ornaments are very popular in Poland, where a high percentage of gardens have a little grotto inhabited by a gnome or two. The passion for garden gnomes manifests itself particularly noticably in alarming truck-sized roadside stalls full of the things for sale - all made of some sort of painted papier mache which apparently decomposes when left outside!

GoblinSimilar to Gnomes, but more grotesque and generally less amiable being prone to mischief. A goblin's smile allegedly curdled the blood and its laugh soured milk and caused fruit trees to shed their fruit.

Gorgon A monstrous woman having snakes instead of hair. Probably the most famous Gorgon was Medusa, whose very sight was sufficient to turn men to stone. Perseus, using his polished shield as a mirror to avoid direct eye contact, was able to slay Medusa.

Green Man The Green Man is depicted in a variety of guises all based around the combining of the human face and foliage. Various basic formats seem to exist, the most common having the foliage sprouting from the man's mouth. Other variants include the foliage actually forming the face, or part of the face, as in the Bamberg Green Man and Canterbury Green man, of growing from the man's hair or beard. A somewhat unpleasant version has the greenery growing from the Green Man's eyes. The meaning of the Green Man is believed to be associated with fertility, man's interaction and dependence upon the natural world.

Green Lion Basically a (less common) variation on the Green man theme. A few other Green animals and indeterminate monsters occur here and there, also, significantly, many wyverns and salamanders have their tails growing into foliage, which is probably significant of an association with the Green Man.

Griffin or Gryphon A hybrid creature having the head, breast and claws of an eagle, but the hindquarters, back legs and tail of a lion. It also has pointed ears. Griffins are supposed to be endowed with enormous strength, quite sufficient to carry off men and horses. Their nests are made of gold and they reputedly guard great mines full of the stuff with great ferocity – probably a good idea given the costly and scarce nature of their chosen building material. The first mentions of griffins come from a Greek traveller in the 7th century BC. In heraldry the griffin has become synonymous with valour, nobility and magnanimity, which ensured its popularity as a motif. Early examples appear on the seal of Richard de Redvers, Earl of Essex, 1167.

Guivre A leg-less, wing-less dragon, basically a large serpent with a dragon head.

Gulon This peculiar dog sized animal had the face of a cat, was covered in long brown hair and had very sharp talons and a fox's tail. However, its real peculiarity lies in its dietry habits (we don't know quite what it was supposed to have eaten) but having stuffed itself outrageously, it was necessary for it to squeeze between two trees in order to force the food through its gut. It then, rather disgustingly, carried on eating.

H

Harpy A vulture-like bird having the head and breasts of a woman.

Heraldic Dragon A form of winged dragon having two pairs of legs.

Hippocampus A strange aquatic monster sometimes known as a sea horse. It has the head and forelegs of a horse and the tail of a dolphin. Instead of having hooves, its forelegs are equipped with flippers. Probably equally useless in water as on land.

Hippogriff The combination of the front of a griffin and the back end of a horse.

Hobgoblin Another name for a Goblin.

Hydra A rather daunting and ferocious seven (sometimes nine) headed dragon able to spontaneously regenerate any of its heads which might get inconveniently severed. An arrow dipped in the Hydra's blood was (not really surprisingly) highly poisonous, though quite how one might obtain the blood I can't imagine.

I

Imp A small demon, often depicted as having goat's back legs, a tail, pointy ears, little horns and mischeivous grin. Supposedly there were good and evil imps. Also a small family car of the 1960s that went like the clappers when its tricky aluminium engine was feeling well!

Ipotane A man with horse's hooves instead of feet. Possibly a variation on the Centaur.

Istonon A strange, unfortunate beast whose physique lacked the normally fundamental prerequisite of a spine, ribcage or any sort of central body. In all other respects effectively a Xolenonilisk.

J

K

L

Lamia There appears to be some confusion as to quite what a Lamia actually was, since one version of the creature has it as a female demon who, in the form of a beautiful women, devours children. Another version of the Lamia has the face and breasts of a woman on the body of a serpent and was unable to speak, this version of the Lamia had to content itself with a hissing sound sufficiently pleasing as to lure strangers who were then eaten. The final version was another cocktail of animal and human parts, this four legged assemblage had a human head, feline forelegs, hooves and a horse's tail. Probably best avoided in all forms.

Leucrocuta Corocotta yet again.

Leucrota And again.

Leviathan A monstrous sea serpent mentioned in the Bible. Ultimately, it is deemed, the Leviathon and the Behemoth will do battle and destroy each other – and probably everything else.

Lindworm Another of the Dragon family. The Lindworm is a dragon having one pair of legs and no wings.

M

Male Griffin Unlike the "normal" griffin, the male griffin has no wings, but it does have horns and sharp spikes This is an odd, anomalous creature. In heraldry the depiction of most creatures defaults to the male gender, the female of the species being specifically blazoned. Griffins, however, rather surprisingly fall outside this general rule with the male griffin being specifically distinguished from the generic group. This causes a problem since the ordinary griffin, who might thus be assumed to be female, appears to be male too – presumably breeding problems led, at least in part, to the griffin's demise.

Manticora This creature combined the body and mane of a lion with dragon wings, a gigantic scorpion's tail, all topped off with a human head fitted with three rows of iron teeth, which must have proven troublesome in old age one suspects. Bizarrely, for such an ungainly concoction, the manticora allegedly had a musical flute or trumpet-like voice.

Mantygre Described as a tiger having the head of a horned man.

Melusine Basically a twin tailed mermaid found mostly in German legends.

Mermecolion or Ant-Lion This might seem just a tiny bit implausible, but this creature is supposed to have had the head of a lion on the body of an ant. Yes, an ant. You'll be astonished to hear that this ridiculous thing suffered chronically in the digestive department and always expired soon after birth. Presumably it symbolised crass stupidity in cross breeding.

Mermaids and Mermen The mermaid and her male equivalent the merman are human from the navel upwards, and fish from the naval down. The mermaid is by far the more commonly depicted of the two, she is almost always shown as a beautiful young woman and legend has it that she lures sea farers to their doom. Although very beautiful, mermaids are considered to be pretty dangerous – vain too, perhaps, since they nearly always have a comb and mirror to hand! Mermen are much rarer, and although less aesthetically alluring perhaps, appear to be equally as dangerous!

Minotaur Before Minos acceded the throne of Crete, he argued bitterly with his brothers over who was to rule. Praying to Poseidon, Minos asked for a white bull to be sent to him as a sign that he should rule. He was subsequently to sacrifice the bull, but when the bull appeared it was so perfect that Minos decided to keep it and sacrifice one of his own bulls in its place. Poseidon, upon discovering the substitution, sought revenge by making Minos' wife, Pasipha, fall in love with the bull. She then had Daedalus build her a wooden cow inside which she climbed in order to, successfully, fool the white bull. The progeny of this extraordinary union was the monster called the Minotaur which had the head and tail of a bull and the body of a man. As it grew the Minotaur caused such mayhem that Minos ordered Daedalus to build a labyrinth so large and complex that the Minotaur could be safely and indefinitely be incarcerated therein. For some unfathomable reason it was deemed appropriate to feed the Minotaur annually with seven youths and maidens plucked from Athens, an activity which persisted for nine years. Eventually Greek Hero Theseus decided to end the bloodshed and, having fallen in love with Minos' daughter Ariadne, went into the labyrinth armed to the teeth and bearing a ball of string. The Minotaur was slain and by following his piece of string Theseus emerged from the labyrinth unscathed and even more heroic.  

Monopod Strange one-legged men whose single giant foot was sufficient to allow rapid travel and also provide shelter for themselves when the lay down.

Moon Woman A woman who lays eggs, and incubates them to hatch giants.

Musiman A ram/goat hybrid having four horns.

N

O

Ogre Large, bulky, grotesque man-like creatures of very malignant nature, prone to feasting on human flesh.

Onocentaur Another strain of the half-horse-half-man centaur, this one being half donkey. One is left wondering if these two might have produced mule centaur progeny.

P

Pard A mysterious creature, often depicted as a lion-like animal with a protruding tongue and full face, that reputedly sinfully mated with the lion to produce the leopard.

Panther Although bearing the same name as a recognisable and living creature, the mythical panther is covered in multicoloured spots and has flames coming from its mouth and ears. The panther was also reputed to have an irresistible scent, which caused all other animals to follow it wherever it went. Only the dragon, enemy of the panther, was able to resist the wonderful smell. Unlike many other heraldic beasts, the panther was an amiable sort of creature much loved by all the other animals.

Pegasus the winged horse. Pegasus's origins are rooted firmly in Greek mythology. He is supposed to have sprung from the blood spilt when Perseus cut off Medusa's head. The winged horse has come to symbolise bravery, loyalty and valour. More recently Pegasus has been adopted as part of many civic heraldic devices connected with aviation and transport – the Spanish truck manufacturer Pegasso even derives its name from Pegasus and a stylised Pegasus graces the front for every one of its vehicles.

Pelican The pelican has been used to symbolise Christ.

Peryton A deer with wings of blue or green, that casts the shadow of a man. Supposed to be the spirits of travellers who died far from home.

Phoenix According to Greek legend the phoenix lived for 500 years, then built itself a funeral pyre upon which it climbed and upon "turning its body to the rays of the sun and flapping its wings" promptly burst into spontaneous combustion. Nine days later the phoenix rose once more from the ashes completely unscathed and presumably good for another 500 years. Inevitably parallels were drawn between the legend of the phoenix and the resurrection of Christ and as a result the symbol of the phoenix became very popular in medieval times, being adopted by Queen Elizabeth I and Jane Seymour, third wife of Henry VIII.

Pixie or piskie Mischeivous little people who, according to some legends, started out as druids who resisted Christianity - the more they resisted, the smaller they grew! 

Q

Questing Beast This creature is plagued with an unquenchable thirst and runs forever at great speed in its quest for water. It has the head of a serpent, a leopard's body and a lion's hindquarters with either hare's paws, or deer's hooves. As it runs, the sound of a pack of dogs comes from its belly.

R

Roc A bird of aeroplane proportions, capable of carrying an elephant. A feather from the Roc was once acquired, it allegedly measured about 67 feet (and was in reality probably a palm frond!).

Rosomacha Yet another name for the omnipresent Corocotta.

S

Salamander This lizard like creature appears in many carvings and heraldic devices. Interestingly, for an amphibian, the salamander was associated with fire, not water, and was credited with the ability to lie in fire with no ill effects. The salamander has come to be associated with faith and holy life, perhaps drawing a parallel between the apparently fireproof salamander and the Old Testament story of the Jews who were cast into a furnace by the Nebuchadnezzar for remaining true to their faith, yet emerged unscathed. It is also suggested that the salamander, through its faith, resisted the fires and ardour of passion! At Wells Cathedral a beautifully carved salamander is positioned where the monks would pass daily, presumably in order to remind them of their faith. It was also the badge of King Francois I of France. The salamander is also sometimes depicted, somewhat bafflingly, as a fire-breathing dog-like animal having a lion's tail.

Satyr Half man half goat (much as in the Centaur). Usually having beards and goat horns or ears, Satyrs were prone to drinking, partying and generally whooping it up. In Greek mythology, the god of the woods, Pan, is a satyr.

Sea Dog A dog, similar to a Talbot, but covered in scales and sporting webbed feet and a dorsal fin.

Sea-lion A leonine version of a mermaid – top half lion, bottom half fish. Only the creature created from the other halves can conjure images of greater incongruity and absurdity!

Serra An enormous flying fish.

Sheila Na Gig An extraordinarily exhibitionistic female figure, thought to be a celtic godess of fertility. Not perhaps the ideal role model for the shy or faint hearted! Sheila Na Gigs appear on some early church architecture, notably the incredible Kilpeck Church in Herefordshire, England.

Sphinx The Sphinx originated in Egypt and had the lower body of a lion, and the upper part of a man or woman. It was supposed to have asked riddles, killing those who couldn't answer them. Eventually Oedipus solved a riddle, so the Sphinx killed herself. The Great Sphinx at Giza in Egypt dates back to about 2500 B.C.

Sprite A sort of ethereal elf or fairy associated with water, found in places of serene, cool tranquility. Quite nice, really.

SylphAn immortal but soulless being that inhabits the air. 

T

Tetramorph A somewhat unusual character, appearing to be a sort of composite of the symbols of the saints Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The tetramorph has the faces of a man, a lion, an ox and an eagle, each with four wings, and the hands of a man under the wings. The tetramorph also sports "eyes everywhere" and (uniquely in the kingdom of even mythical beasts) wheels that "turned not when they went".

Troll Ugly, malevolent, trogloditic, vaguely man-like creatures of Scandanavian mythology who, like gnomes, are instantly petrified if exposed to sunlight. Partial to the odd snack of human being. Bad neighbours.

Tyger Although being described in the thirteenth century as being a ferocious animal with a fearsome turn of speed, it seems unlikely that the tellers had much idea, if any, about real tigers. It was alleged that if one found oneself persued by one of these monsters, the best defence was to throw a mirror on the floor, whereupon the tyger would become transfixed with its own image and forget the chase. Somehow, one can't help thinking that a degree of wishful thinking would also be necessary!

Triton A merman holding a trident and blowing on a conch.

U

Unicorn Surely one of the best loved of all mythical beasts, the unicorn is essentially a horse having a single long (often spiralled) horn, tufted hocks, a goat's beard and cloven hooves and a lion's tail. Most unicorns are depicted as being white, often with gold or silvery mane. They are also deemed to be fearlessly brave and fleet of foot. Apparently the only way to capture a unicorn is to lay a trap using a virgin as bait, the unicorn will then go the maid and lay its head in her lap, whereupon the would be unicorn trappers presumably spring forth with a suitably modified halter, or some such equestrian restraint and bag themselves a pretty rare steed. An association with the unicorn and Christ, who came to earth through the Virgin Mary, resulted from this story. As a result of this religious connotation the unicorn rarely appeared in medieval heraldry as it was considered blasphemous. In the seventeenth century the unicorn along with the lion appeared together on the royal crest of the United Kingdom.

Urisk A man-goat combination, resident of waterfalls in the Scottish Highlands. Although not inherently sinister, they supposedly sometimes scared people by following them through lonely places.

V

W

Werewolf A creature of popular folklore. Basically it is a man who under the influence of a full moon, transforms into a monstrous wolf. The Werewolf devours human flesh and as such is unsuitable as a household pet. Incredibly it was not until the 17th century that the charge of being a Werewolf finally disappeared from European courts! 

Winged lion The winged lion is the symbol associated with St. Mark. Sometimes depicted carrying a scroll of parchment; the gospel of S. Mark. It is also the badge of Venice as St. Mark is the patron saint of the city.

Winged Man The winged man is the symbol of St. Matthew.

Winged Ox The winged ox is the symbol of St. Luke.

Wyvern This is a two legged, winged variety of dragon. In British heraldry a distinction is made between the four legged dragon and the wyvern, which is in all other respects the same as a dragon. In European heraldry (in keeping with the heraldry of the Middle Ages), this distinction is not made and both creatures are called dragons. Symbolically the two creatures are similar, though the wyvern is said to symbolise the overthrowing the tyranny of a demonic enemy.

X

Xolenonilisk A shy, grey, wingless dragon-like creature without legs, which possessed neither head nor tail. Given its unfortunate lack of a head, it was probably convenient that the creature subsisted on the somewhat frugal diet of just plain air. It lived in solitude on lonely mountains and moors and is said  to have been invisible for much of its life. Given its physique this last feat, at least, shouldn't have proven too difficult. Its main pleasure in life, it seems, was invisibly stalking lonely travellers whilst uttering the noise of the wind. A fairly pointless creature even by Medieval standards.

Y

Yala A creature composed of the body of a lion and the head, trunk and tusks of an elephant.

Yale The yale looks something like an antelope having a lion-ish sort of tail and a head fitted with horrid swivelling horns and tusks with which it wreaked merry havoc. Not an ideal pet. The yale appears in heraldry associated with King Henry IV's third son, John Duke of Bedford and Earl of Kendal.

Z

Zabo The final entry here for one of the Corocotta's many alternative names.

Ziz An enormous bird mentioned in the book of Psalms. It could eclipse the sun with its wings and was incredibly powerful. The Ziz was supposedly created to protect all birds, who without the Ziz's protection, would have all faced extinction. One can only hope that in these times of increased burden upon our natural landscape the Ziz is still fervently doing its stuff.

No. 23

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