Another manuscript I really like is this 1110-1130 English bestiary, drawn by an artist whose approach to unfamiliar animals was “like a bear, but…”

Like a bear, but pointy.

Like a bear, but wet.

Like a bear, but breathing fire.

Like a bear, but winged. (Yes, the second one does say salamandra. Because it’s a salamander. No problems here.)

And my personal favourite: like a bear, but overcome with the futility of existence in a harsh and uncaring world. Look at the faces on the bottom two. Those lions are so done.

Also featuring some extremely untrustworthy elephants:

[Images from Bodleian Library, MS. Laud Misc. 247]


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