Wyvern

Wyvern

Possible word origins:

Middle English "wyvere" meaning viper1
French "wivre"1
Latin "vipera"1
Thirteenth-century word "wyver", derived from the French wyvere, which means both "viper" and "life."2
Alteration of Middle English wyvere, viper, from Old North French wivre, from Latin vpera5

Check out Wyverns In Art my collection of wyvern images by some of the best fantasy artists there are.

The wyvern (wivern) is defined as being a winged reptilian creature with two legs and a pair of bat-like wings. The long tail is most often depicted as having an arrowpoint tip on it although there are representations that depict the wyvern as having a barbed tail much like that of a scorpion. There are also varying accounts on whether or not the wings might have a talon on them, most images I have seen of the wyvern in heraldic depictions seem to indicate the traditional belief to be that the wings do not have this talon.

The wyvern is percieved as being the most scientifically possible of the various styles of dragons. This owed to the fact that the wyvern only has two legs. An uncomfirmed quote from Wikipedia stating:

Wyverns are also one of the only "scientificly possible" dragons because of the "animals with a backbone can only have 4 limbs theory".

wyvernWhile commonly thought to be small, the dragonology section of Dragonologist.com states that the wyvern is a quite large dragon with a length of up to 50 feet and standing roughly 20 feet in height. It is listed as one of the largest of the dragon species.

The wyvern is said, by Dragonologist.com to prey upon large animals such as elephants, hippopotami and rinoceros. Dragonologist.com is one source that states the wyvern's tail is tipped by a venoous stinger which it is said to use in the hunt for these large creatures.

Dave's Mythical Creatures and Places lists the Wyvern under their Serpents and Dragons entry. There they list it as being a medieval European variant of the dragon and identify it as destructive and predatory. The site also suggests that the wyvern is sybolic of pestilence.

Linked to the wyvern, at 'Dave's Mythical Creatures and Places', is the lindworm. The lindworm is percived as a small dragon from Central Asia with no wings, even though they are listed as eating cattle. They are also reported to have been encountered in Germany.

MyticalRealm.com says the wyvern is referred to in England as 'dragonets' because of "their generally small in stature and basically appear to be adolescent dragons", a contrast to the claims of them being large, although, one might also wonder if 50 feet long and 20 feet high is "small in stature" what the actual size of a dragon is.

Their dwellings are described by Mythical Realm as being caverns or lairs in forests. Debris such as bones and shiney baubles are said to be the hallmark of these lairs. Mythic Realm also states that their lairs, unlike those of the dragon, are more likely to contain items of no real value rather than mounds of treasure and gold as a dragon collects.

Amoung the famous sightings of wyverns are

The Free Dictionary5 lists the wyvern as having a barbed tail and capable of breathing fire. It lists the synonym "wivern" and related words as being "dragon" and "firedrake".

Dictionary.com6 also states that the wyvern has a barbed tail and gives the word origon as being from the 1600-10 Middle English "wyver" viper. Also listed is Middle English "wyvere" (viper) derived from the Old North French "wiver" which is from the Latin "vipera".

So, based on my research, the wyvern seems to have come from the steppes of China, where Marco Polo is reported to have witnessed lyndworms in the 1200's. With the close ties of the lindworm to the wyvern, and the sighting by Marco Polo nearly 400 years before the reported evilution of the word wyvern in Middle English, I present the theory that perhaps the wyvern evolved from the lindworm having an evolutionary change that gave the creature wings with which it evaded hunters and eventually fled the steppes of China to inhabit parts of Europe at some point in the late 1500's, with the name wyvern being traced back to the very early 1600's. - this is just a theory that I have not yet had a chance to do any research into.

Interested in seeing what the wyvern might have looked like? Check out my collection of wyverns in art compiled from the works of various fantasy artists. These images are all used with permission of the artists and show what wyverns might have looked like.

 

Want to find out more about wyverns and other kinds of dragons? Google Search is a great resource.
Try search terms such as "wyvern heraldry", "wyvern legend" or "wirvern":

Google
 


 

Wyvern is an informational resource for those interested in the wyvern.
I am a fantasy writer and this site is where am going to be compiling
my notes and information on the research I am doing on wyverns.
The site will continue to grow as I gather more information.
This site is a member of the following webrings:

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1. Armorial Gold Heraldry Symbolism

2. Lady Gryphon's Mythical Realm

3. Armorial Gold Heraldry Symbolism

4. Dave's Mythical Creatures and Places

5. The Free Dictionary

6. Dictionary.com

 

 

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