Fabulous animals

 Fabulous animals are sometimes real, sometimes imaginary, and sometimes a combination of both. In fables real animals are used. They usually represent a trait, such as cunning (fox) or innocence (lamb), and illustrate a moral. Among the imaginary animals that appear in the stories of many peoples are the dragon, the unicorn, the phoenix, and the griffin. Often the descriptions of these fabulous animals have been derived from weird tales of travelers.
   The dragon in the folklore of all peoples has a snake or crocodile body covered with scales. It has the head and forelegs of a lion, a hawk, or an eagle. Many dragons have wings. This creature is usually associated with water, and he may lie in a cave or a lake, where he guards a treasure as he emits roars and breathes fire. All dragons require human sacrifice.
   The unicorn is a one-horned animal with the body and head of a horse, the hind legs of an antelope, and the beard of a goat. The horn grows from the middle of the head. The unicorn is a wild creature and is said to be tamed only by a maiden.
   The phoenix, a fabled Egyptian bird, dies and springs up again from its ashes. It may have originated in the myth of the Persian simurgh, thirty birds in one with a lifetime of 1,700 years.
   The griffin is a monster with the head and wings of an eagle, the body of a lion, and sometimes the tail of a serpent. The griffin always guards mines or treasure.