Virtual Institute
5 - The griffin

(last update : 01 November 1998)


    An hybrid creature with a lion's body, and a head with a hawk's beak, the griffin (figure 1) was said to keep the entrance of the golden mines of the (then) far Asia.


Figure 1 : a warrior killing a griffin
(bas-relief at Persepolis).

    Adrienne Mayor (1991) has proposed that the griffin comes from the discovery of skelettons of ceratopsian dinosaurs, such as Protoceratops frequently found in Mongolia (figure 2) : its skull possesses a kind of curved beak looking like that of a bird of prey, which indeed could gave birth to this legend.


Figure 2 : skeletton of Protoceratops andrewsi.


For more information

MAYOR, Adrienne
1991 Griffin bones : ancient folklore and palaeontology. Cryptozoology, 10 : 16-42.


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